Tokyo Sexwale, independent non-executive chair of Trillian, plans an independent investigation to fully test the veracity of allegations made in a Sunday newspaper this past weekend.
The Sunday Times alleged pre-knowledge by a member or members of Trillian concerning President Jacob Zuma’s replacing of former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene by Des van Rooyen. This move by Zuma on December 9 2015 had a big negative impact on the rand and SA’s equity markets.
The newspaper claimed the firing of Nene and his replacement by Van Rooyen could have been planned months in advance, according to an affidavit given to former public protector Thuli Madonsela by an anonymous “whistle-blower”, who apparently used to be a former CEO of a business unit at Johannesburg headquartered Trillian Capital Partners.
Trillian Capital Partners forms part of the Trillian Group, which is 60% held by Trillian Holdings, while its sole director Salim Essa is said to be a close Gupta associate.
The company on Sunday denied any links to the Guptas. In his statement on Tuesday, Sexwale also emphasised that Trillian is not Gupta-owned. He has, therefore, made the share register of Trillian Holdings available for public scrutiny.
Sexwale said he has urgently interacted with members of senior management and viewed supporting documentation. He has the full support of the board and senior management team to launch an independent investigation.
“In such a situation, if true, it would be extremely alarming and would require a convincing explanation to the nation as to how that which was only supposed to be known by the president, became known in business circles, including Trillian,” Sexwale said in the statement.
Fighting the monster of corruption
“The monster of corruption must not be allowed to take root and overwhelm the good work achieved since 1994.”
He added that verifiable evidence, however, needs to be put forward.
“Good corporate governance dictates that, although the alleged matters took place last year before I joined the company in April of this year, I should initiate an independent investigation in order to fully test the veracity of these allegations,” said Sexwale.
The independent investigation is to be led by what he describes as “a trusted public person” to fully investigate the allegations in collaboration with the relevant law enforcement agencies. He expects the name of the person to lead the investigation to be announced within the next few days.
Thewhistle-blower alleged in her affidavit that she was already informed on October 26 2015 by her direct line manager, Eric Wood, at Regiments Capital that Zuma would replace Nene.
The whistle-blower reportedly said in the affidavit that Wood told her that her former colleague, Mohammed Bobat, would be appointed special adviser to Van Rooyen. Bobat was a principal at Regiments Capital in the management consulting division and reported directly to Wood, according to the whistle-blower.
Bobat was then expected to “channel all tenders from National Treasury and state-owned companies” to a team of experts that would include expertise from Trillian Capital, the whistle-blower said.
However, Bobat has denied the whistle-blower’s claims. The whistle-blower further said that Trillian won a R5m deal for a capital raising transaction for SA Express that allegedly never went through. Meanwhile, the company also stands accused of invoicing Transnet R10m for work that “could not have taken place”.
Wood denied all allegations by the whistle-blower and described her as a “disaffected employee” and fraudster who has stolen confidential company information.
In its statement on Sunday, Trillian said “those wild and unsubstantiated allegations have extremely damaging repercussions for the reputation of an emerging and growing black-owned financial services group and to that of Dr Wood”.
The company also accused the whistle-blower of being a “disgruntled former employee”.