BEE commission to probe Gupta-linked firms for allegedly faking certificates

Optimum Mine was reported to have been placed under business rescue in February, and a court ordered Trillian’s assets to be frozen earlier this year. (Gallo)

Optimum Mine was reported to have been placed under business rescue in February, and a court ordered Trillian’s assets to be frozen earlier this year. (Gallo)

The broad-based black empowerment commission has agreed to investigate three Gupta-linked companies for allegedly faking certificates to get contracts with Eskom.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has laid a formal complaint with the commission against the Gupta-linked companies. On Monday, the party said that Commissioner Zodwa Ntuli had agreed to investigate the certificates used by Tegeta Resources and Exploration, Optimum Coal Mining and Trillian Consulting in their business with Eskom.

The DA is accusing Eskom of knowing Tegeta, Optimum and Trillian had used fraudulent certificates, saying the power utility could be prosecuted for criminal conduct if the commission finds any such wrongdoing.

The certificates are believed to be fake, the DA said, because the companies were “misrepresented” as micro-enterprises and allegedly unduly benefited from a waiver that gives a B-BBEE rating to these enterprises even if there is no black ownership. The party said that the companies’ turnover exceeded the limit to qualify for a micro-enterprise classification.

The party said that it would raise its complain at the state capture inquiry, which is expected to begin this year.

READ MORE: DA to go after Gupta-linked companies with fraudulent B-BBEE certificates

“In addition to the complaint we filed today with the B-BBEE Commissioner, the DA will also ensure that this evidence is brought before the State Capture inquiry to be headed by Deputy Chief Justice, Judge Raymond Zondo,” the DA said in a statement.

“The allegedly fake B-BBEE certificates are yet more evidence that the Gupta state capture project was not only confined to corrupting politicians and public servants, but was a deliberate plan to undermine the law in order to benefit unlawfully from the state.”

The complaint comes as companies linked to the Gupta empire have become embroiled in battles to continue operating after the family has come under scrutiny. Atul Gupta is currently being sought by the Hawks and is considered a fugitive.

Optimum Mine was reported to have been placed under business rescue in February, and a court ordered Trillian’s assets to be frozen earlier this year.

“For far too long, the Guptas have undermined our institutions and the law with impunity. It has become urgent that they are held accountable for their acts of brazenness in capturing the state with the assistance of former President Jacob Zuma,” the party said. 

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