17 January 2018

South Africa: Gupta-Linked Company Denies Getting Asset Seizure Order From NPA

Gupta-linked companies Trillian and McKinsey have until Thursday to submit to the National Prosecuting Authority a list of its assets to be frozen or seized.

They were officially served with a preservation order to freeze assets worth R1.6bn.

However, in a statement on Wednesday, McKinsey's spokesperson Bonita Dordel said it had not been formally provided with any affidavit or order from any authority regarding this matter.

"We encourage the authorities to share with us the documents that have been shared with the press," said Dordel.

Dordel said, while the company could not comment, it welcomed all "actions to resolve this issue and will continue to cooperate with the South African authorities and official investigations into these matters".

In addition, the company said it had written to Eskom at least five times, asking the power utility to initiate necessary proceedings before the court in relation to the unlawful turnaround contract, and reiterated that it was still willing to pay back the money.

"While we cannot comment on items we have not seen in full, no new information has emerged from the public reports that changes our understanding of the facts. When this issue first arose, we launched a comprehensive investigation.

"We stand by our statement of 17 October 2017, in which we categorically rejected the notion that our firm was involved in any acts of bribery or corruption related to our work at Eskom and our interaction with Regiments or Trillian," said Dordel.

'Willing to settle the matter out of court'

The AFU went to court for an order against the global company, as well as the Gupta-linked Trillian Capital Partners, for allegedly scoring an invalid contract from Eskom.

On Wednesday, NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku told News24 that the preservation order, which the NPA had obtained ex parte on December 14, was only served to the parties involved on Tuesday.

At least 14 people and entities linked to the alleged corruption by Trillian and McKinsey at Eskom have been identified in a preservation order obtained by the Assets Forfeiture Unit. -

Mfaku said lawyers for all concerned were in negotiations with the NPA on Wednesday.

"The lawyers of both firms will be meeting us tomorrow to discuss the terms of agreement. Both parties have indicated to us today that they are willing to settle the matter out of court."

The December 14 order, obtained in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, seeks to recoup assets worth an estimated R1.6bn, as the state finally goes after those identified in probes into state capture, by the family linked to President Jacob Zuma, News24 reported earlier.

Mfaku explained that they were only acting on the December order now because they needed to ensure that all logistical arrangements were in place.

These included guaranteeing the security of the seized assets. He added that the execution of the order was also delayed by the festive season.

He denied that it was a political move to act now.

Court order

"The curator had not provided a point of security... Should assets dissipate in his/her custody we had to ensure that he/she had the assets insured. The security was only finalised last week, there is nothing political in this at all."

The people named in the court order, which News24 has obtained, include Eric Wood who is Trillian CEO, Trillian CFO Tebogo Leballo and Prakash Parbhoo, a partner at McKinsey, and Jean Pierre Georges Desvaux, who is a senior partner and managing partner at McKinsey.

The court order also identifies Trillian property in the high-end business precinct of Melrose Arch in Johannesburg.

A Durban-based curator, Medwin Madoda Sifiso Nxumalo, has been appointed.

Others named in the order include: Veronica Magwentshu, Thabiso Legoete, Johannes Faure, Daniel Roy, Trillian Capital Partners, Trillian Financial Advisory, Trillian Management Consulting, Trillian Properties, Trillian Securities, McKinsey and Company Africa, and "any other person who becomes known to the applicant as having an interest in the property".

Attempts by News24 to contact Trillian Capital Partners for comment were unsuccessful.

A receptionist told News24 that the company did not have a media spokesperson or communications manager, before slamming down the phone.

Source: News24

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