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09 Oct 2015 00:00
Cyril Ramaphosa. (David Harrison, M&G)
Last year, it emerged that, while Cyril Ramaphosa was a member of Lonmin’s board, the company moved millions of rands in platinum revenues from South Africa to tax-free Bermuda.
The news broke weeks after Ramaphosa, South Africa’s deputy president, had argued before Parliament that the use of tax havens to make profits “disappear” was a global problem, even if it was often done legally.
He said the South African government was grappling to stem these offshore flows.
Ramaphosa was also MTN’s nonexecutive chairperson from 2001 to 2013, when the company moved billions of rands from Africa to a company with no staff in Mauritius. He led the board that, according to MTN company documents, “considers, debates and adopts” MTN’s “strategic direction”.
The company’s official filings and annual reports make it clear that repatriating earnings as management fees and other offshore remittances has been a “central pillar” of MTN’s strategy.
But Ramaphosa washed his hands of the matter when asked to comment.
His spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa, referred all questions to MTN, saying: “The government’s position on the broader question of tax evasion has been clearly articulated by the deputy president and other government leaders in Parliament and on other public platforms.”
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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story.
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