Government’s efforts to retrieve R287m from Gupta mine stalls again

The government’s four-year efforts to retrieve the R287-million loaned to Gupta-owned mining company Shiva Uranium stalled again last Friday following a high court decision setting aside the business rescue practitioners ratified by the Company and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). 

The government has been trying to recover the R250-million loan – which has since gathered interest – that Oakbay, the Gupta family’s investment arm, received from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) in 2010 for the purchase of the uranium mine. 

Trade minister Ebrahim Patel, who was then the economic development minister, told parliament in September 2018 that the government, which owns the development finance institution IDC, was litigating against Shiva to recover its loan. 

“This matter is now subject to litigation in an effort to recover IDC’s exposure of R287.5-million. The R287-million is made up of R37.5-million remaining capital of the original R250-million loan and R250-million return on the original loan,” Patel said in a written parliamentary reply. 

On Friday, the Johannesburg high court ordered the reappointment of Mahomed Tayob and Eugene Januarie as the legal business rescue practitioners, following a protracted legal battle which began in February 2018 when Shiva Uranium was one of several mining companies under Tegeta, the Gupta family’s holding mining company, to undergo business rescue. 

The Shiva board had initially appointed Louis Klopper and Kurt Knoop as the business rescue practitioners in February 2018, but this was challenged in court by the IDC, leading to the original practitioners resigning in May 2018 before the application’s hearing. 

Judge Natvarlal Ranchod appointed Cloete Murray as the senior practitioner, which led to the appointment of Kgashane Monyela as the junior practitioner in June 2018. 

Murray resigned as a senior practitioner three months later, and both he and Monyela, “in anticipation of [Murray’s] resignation”, resolved to appoint Juanito Damons as the senior practitioner without the approval of the Shiva board. 

The board then resolved in September 2018 to appoint Tayob and Januarie as the company’s recognised practitioners – a decision which was successfully challenged by Monyela at the Companies Tribunal two months later. 

After the tribunal’s decision was initially upheld by the Johannesburg high court, the matter went all the way up to the constitutional court, which found, in a unanimous decision in November last year, that Tayob and Januarie were the rightful business rescue practitioners of Shiva. 

The high court ratified the constitutional court’s ruling on Friday, saying Tayob would be Shiva’s senior business rescue practitioner and Januarie his deputy.

Meanwhile, judgement was reserved 11 days ago in the application brought by the  Investigative Directorate (ID) to preserve Tegeta’s assets following its controversial R2.1-billion purchase of Optimum Coal Mine. 

“The ID seeks to preserve all of Tegeta’s shares in Optimum Coal Mine, all of Tegeta’s shares in Optimum Coal Terminal and the business [of] the coal mine. It is the ID’s case that all of these assets were acquired with the proceeds of crimes perpetrated against South African state-owned entities, including Transnet and Eskom,” said Sindiswe Seboka, spokesperson for the ID. 

“The ID in its papers told the court that a month prior to Tegeta furnishing the purchase price, the company did not have the R2.1 billion to purchase the mine. However, shortly thereafter funds from Gupta controlled entities Oakbay Investments, Albatime and Centaur mining, among others, were transferred into Tegeta’s account as loans.”

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Khaya Koko
Khaya Koko is a journalist with a penchant for reading through legal documents braving the ravages of cold court benches to expose the crooked. He writes about social justice and human-interest stories. Most importantly, he is a card-carrying member of the Mighty Orlando Pirates.

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