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30 Sep 2013 11:19
ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete. (Gallo)
The Hawks would investigate allegations of corruption and bribery in a Gold Fields empowerment transaction involving ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete, Beeld reported on Monday.
Major General Hans Meiring, head of the Hawks's commercial crimes unit, confirmed the investigation in a letter to the Democratic Alliance (DA) after the party asked for a probe earlier this month.
"You are herewith advised that the content of your letter was read and the information is being reviewed by the directorate of priority crime investigations [Hawks] through an investigation for the purpose of determining whether there are any criminal actions, and, if so who the perpetrators are," Meiring's letter stated.
This follows a report by the Mail & Guardian that a New York law firm found that a R25-million share allocation to Mbete allegedly constituted bribery.
Commissioned by Gold Fields, the firm alleged that Mbete's increased cut in the 2010 deal was in response to a threat by her representative.
Mbete has said she was invited to join the empowerment group in 2010 and was not aware of any impropriety relating to the deal.
The ANC has complained to the press ombudsman over the M&G report, which says that mining company Gold Fields allegedly "buried" the law firm's report.
Welcoming the investigation
The DA welcomed the investigation by the Hawks.
DA MP James Lorimer said in a statement on Sunday: "We trust that the Hawks will be afforded the opportunity to investigate without fear or favour and with the full co-operation from everyone involved."
The law firm recommended that Gold Fields "self report" the matter to the authorities. But the company's board disregarded the advice – and instead decided not to have the findings written up.
The law firm made no finding against Mbete, whose complicity would depend on her actions and state of mind.
Mbete referred comment to Gold Fields chairperson Cheryl Carolus, who answered on behalf of the board only.
She insisted it had acted "in full compliance with the law".
The Gold Fields black economic empowerment (BEE) transaction has already drawn controversy for the way it channelled benefits to connected individuals assembled by a presidential lawyer and two ex-convicts.
The latest allegations are likely to increase concerns about the abuse of mining sector opportunities to extend patronage to a small elite.
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