/ 7 October 2009

Agliotti paid to ‘sort out’ Rautenbach’s problems

Former Hyundai boss Billy Rautenbach allegedly paid $100 000 for his “problems” in South Africa to disappear.

Rautenbach, who is set to testify in the corruption trial of former police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi, featured prominently in the evidence of Selebi’s friend and convicted drug dealer Glenn Agliotti in the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday.

Agliotti testified that he charged Rautenbach $100 000 to use his connection with Selebi to “sort out” Rautenbach’s problems in South Africa. However, the only assistance Rautenbach received from the former top cop was confirmation that an international arrest warrant hadn’t been issued by Interpol.

Selebi, according to Agliotti, received $30 000 of Rautenbach’s money in return for his assistance.

Two weeks ago Rautenbach finally handed himself to South African authorities and agreed to pay a R40-million fine.

Asked by prosecutor Gerrie Nel about his relationship with Rautenbach, Agliotti testified he was introduced to him by another Zimbabwean businessman, Brian Baxter.

He visited Rautenbach’s farm in Harare with Baxter. “He [Rautenbach] explained to me what his problems in South Africa were, with Sars [South African Revenue Service] and others. Brian told him I’m well connected in South Africa.”

Agliotti told Rautenbach he could try to assist him and asked him for further documents and details.

After receiving a file of documents from Rautenbach’s lawyer, Agliotti allegedly handed the documents over to Selebi. “He said thanks, he will look into the matter.”

Included in the documents was a letter by former prosecutions boss Bulelani Ngcuka to Rautenbach’s London attorney, James Ramsay, in which Ngcuka expresses the hope to find a “mutually acceptable solution” to Rautenbach’s legal problems.

According to Agliotti, Rautenbach felt Ngcuka was abusing his powers of office to conspire against him and told him Ngcuka allegedly solicited a bribe from him [Rautenbach].

This allegation was also levelled against Ngcuka by Selebi in his plea explanation, admitted to court on Monday. Ngcuka strongly denies this.

According to Agliotti, he and Selebi met a “representative” of Rautenbach, James Tidmarsh, at the Sandton Towers hotel to discuss Rautenbach’s problems. They discussed the possibility of lifting or withdrawing Rautenbach’s arrest warrant.

Rautenbach later asked Selebi through Agliotti to confirm whether an international warrant for his arrest had been issued. Selebi allegedly checked and confirmed that no such warrant had been issued.

At a subsequent meeting in Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rautenbach and Tidmarsh allegedly picked up Agliotti from the airport in Rautenbach’s Mitsubishi Pajero 4X4 and handed him $100 000 in cash.

“I told Billy I wasn’t going to do it [contact Selebi] for nothing. He gave me the money and I would look after the accused [Selebi].”

After receiving the money, Agliotti allegedly paid Selebi $30 000 in three tranches.