20 March 2019

South Africa: Businessman Recounts Sneaky Gupta Acquisition of VR Laser

analysis

A former shareholder of VR Laser Services, Benny Jiyane, claims he was duped into a partnership with the Guptas, one he got out of so fast, he lost millions of rand in the process.

If things had gone according to plan, Benny Jiyane could have landed up in the same pound seats as the Guptas, courtesy of Transnet.

But, the Johannesburg businessman, a former director and shareholder of VR Laser Systems, had made a deal with a devil he didn't know - and once he figured it all out, he pulled out, effectively handing the Guptas a ticket to a lucrative international partnership with Denel.

The joint venture between Denel and VR Laser has been the subject of major controversy and amaBhungane exposé going back to 2016.

In late 2013, on the sidelines of a defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi, Jiyani would meet Gupta kingpin, Salim Essa, for the first time.

He had been shopping around for a financier to help him pull off a R120-million shareholder buyout of VR Laser Services, a company in which he then held a 25% stake.

The local company at the time produced steel plate components for heavy vehicle bodies and, at the time,...

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