Maharaj responds to audit report

Former transport minister Mac Maharaj has responded to an audit report detailing alleged payments and gifts to him from Durban businessman Schabir Shaik and Nkobi Holdings, FirstRand said on Wednesday.

FirstRand received the report it had requested from auditing firm Deloitte and Touche last week.

FirstRand then gave Maharaj, who is a director at the banking group and currently on leave pending the outcome of enquiries, a week to respond. The deadline was Wednesday.

FirstRand would not give details of the response, saying that its board and the relevant authorities would first have to meet.

Approached on Wednesday, Maharaj declined to comment on the matter, directing all queries to FirstRand.

The four-month, independent enquiry into newspaper allegations of corruption against Maharaj was conducted by attorneys Hofmeyr Herbstein & Gihwala and Deloitte & Touche.

It followed a series of media reports regarding payments made to Maharaj by Shaik that are currently under investigation by the Scorpions.

The reports alleged Shaik had made a number of large payments to Maharaj and his wife after the transport ministry Maharaj then headed, awarded lucrative licensing and toll-road contracts to companies associated with Shaik.

Last week, the Sunday Times reported that the audit included details of a Maharaj family holiday to Disneyland that was paid for by Shaik.

Shaik was grilled for six hours by the Scorpions last month on a variety of issues including investigations into Deputy President Jacob Zuma. Shaik was Zuma’s personal financial adviser.

Investigators are attempting to ascertain whether Zuma tried to solicit R500 000 from Thomson CSF/Thales, a company that benefited from South Africa’s multi-billion arms deal.  - Sapa

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