Stratton won't return to SA, denies bribing Selebi

Australian businessman John Stratton, a one-time director of South African firms JCI and Randgold & Exploration (R&E), is fighting South Africa’s plans to have him extradited in connection with the murder of mining magnate Brett Kebble.

Currently living in Perth, Stratton is wanted by the Scorpions as an alleged co-conspirator in the brutal murder of mining magnate Brett Kebble in September 2005.

He has also been named in a $1-billion lawsuit against PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) by the new directors of R&E.

But Stratton, who was deeply entrenched in the Kebble clan and helped run several Kebble-owned companies, refuses to return to South Africa, where he faces charges of conspiracy to murder.

The subject of a programme run by Australia’s ABC News on Monday night, Stratton has denied any involvement in the fatal shooting, and in a statement sent to the station’s Four Corners programme also denied any payment of bribes to South African police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi.

“I have no intention of going back to South Africa until the political circumstances tidy up,” he told ABC News.

The 73-year-old was linked to the Kebble case after inquiries related to Kebble’s estate and insolvent companies uncovered an intricate web of business dealings that resulted in the collapse of mining companies with which both Stratton and Kebble were associated.

Kebble’s strategic adviser, Stratton was made a director of JCI in 1998, but also appeared to be closely associated with the private intelligence and security network Kebble gathered around him, and was notably close to Glenn Agliotti and later to Kebble security adviser Clinton Nassif.

A month before his murder, Kebble was fired as chief executive of South African mining company JCI and was later found to have defrauded JCI and R&E of almost $800-million.

According to the Australian, Stratton launched a legal challenge to South Africa’s extradition agreement with Australia in February last year by applying to have the extradition agreement declared invalid on the grounds that it breached the South African Constitution.

When that bid failed, Stratton’s South African lawyers applied to the Pretoria High Court to try to prevent the National Prosecuting Authority from pursuing an extradition request with Australian authorities.

Stratton and Hendrik Buitendag, the former financial controller of R&E who also resides in Perth, have both been named in the lawsuit lodged with at court by R&E.

R&E alleges that PwC, which plans to fight the claim, was negligent in its auditing of the company’s books from 2000 until 2003.

It also alleges that the then-JCI directors—Kebble, Stratton and Buitendag—acted in their capacities as directors of JCI and in their personal capacities to devise a scheme that “was intended to wrongfully through theft, deprive Randgold” of two million Roodepoort Deep shares.

There are also claims of other share thefts.

But few believe Stratton will voluntarily return to South Africa to either help further the Kebble murder investigations or provide testimony in the PwC matter.—I-Net Bridge

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