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Cipro loopholes exposed in R220m tender 'hijack'

Jul 25 2010 11:43 Fin24.com reporter

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Johannesburg - A company that landed a R220m tender to install an electrical system for the Gautrain was 'hijacked' by politically connected entrepreneurs who exploited weaknesses in the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro), Business Times reported on Sunday.

Business Times reported that  Advocate Matane Mphahlele appointed himself director and managing director of Tension Overhead at Cipro and "suspended" the existing bosses.

He also tried to take over the company's bank accounts, based on his claim that he owns 60% of the shares - a claim the company is disputing in court proceedings, Business Times said.

The much-criticised Cipro last week introduced new measures to prevent people registering as directors with fake identity numbers and no documents.

However, Mphahlele was able to "deregister" two of the company's existing directors at Cipro without providing any board resolution or resignation letters, and appointed three of his associates as directors. Both sides have laid criminal charges.

"The 'hijackers' are politically well connected. Mphahlele served as a legal director in the department of public enterprises, while his new directors include ANC member and National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc) deputy secretary-general Kentse Makgae, and Limpopo treasury official Thomas Mphahlele," Business Times said in its report.

Cipro's acting registrar Joey Mathekga conceded to Business Times that anyone can register as a director of any company today, and Cipro only then launches an investigation. "There is no existing legal framework that says you can't do this," he said.

 - Fin24.com
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