Madonsela questions why Van Rooyen advisers 'influenced' Gupta deal | Fin24

Madonsela questions why Van Rooyen advisers 'influenced' Gupta deal

Oct 14 2016 13:16
Pieter-Louis Myburgh

Johannesburg – During Des van Rooyen’s brief tenure as finance minister, his advisers allegedly “influenced” a government official to award a state contract to the Gupta family. 

The advisers also allegedly tried to obtain information from a Treasury official about a controversial multi-billion rand South African Airways deal.

These are some of the details of alleged “state capture” contained in Van Rooyen's urgent high court application to interdict Public Protector Thuli Madonsela from releasing her much-awaited report into the matter.

Van Rooyen's application, in the High Court in Pretoria, includes Madonsela's questions to him about his disastrous appointment as finance minister in December, and his replies.

The application would be heard on November 1.

A notice Madonsela issued to Van Rooyen suggests she made adverse findings against him.

"You or your advisors (sic), under your direction or control, sought to influence a government official to award contracts to the Gupta family in an irregular and unfair manner," Madonsela wrote to Van Rooyen.

READ: Named: Van Rooyen’s two Gupta 'advisers' who almost hijacked SA Treasury

It is not clear which contract is being referred to. However, SAA’s contentious lease swap deal for new Airbus aircraft is mentioned in Madonsela's notice to Van Rooyen.

According to the document, Madonsela investigated whether two of Van Rooyen's advisers, Ian Whitley and Mohamed Bobat, were "aligned to the Gupta family" and if they tried to use their positions to obtain information on the SAA contract.

Madonsela had to determine if "either Mr Whitley or Mr Bobat, under your (Van Rooyen's) direction or control, asked a member of National Treasury for information on the SAA Airbus swap deal, among others", reads Madonsela's notice to Van Rooyen.

President Jacob Zuma appointed Van Rooyen in December. At the time, SAA chair and Zuma ally Dudu Myeni had been trying to amend the multi-billion rand Airbus deal to include an unnamed local aviation company.

Van Rooyen's predecessor, Nhlanhla Nene, was opposed to how Myeni wanted to include the mysterious local company in the deal.

"If not contradicted, it appears that your actions are a violation of amongst (sic) others Section 2 of the Executive Members Ethics Act as your conduct appears to compromise the credibility and integrity of your office," Madonsela wrote, in reference to Van Rooyen's short tenure as minister.

He was in the job for four days before Pravin Gordhan replaced him. 

In his response, Van Rooyen denies the allegations about Bobat and Whitley's supposed attempts to gather information on the SAA Airbus deal.

"In any event, I am not clear why (if this indeed happened) asking a member of National Treasury for such information leads you to draw negative inference against me," Van Rooyen responded.

He denied that Bobat and Whitley tried to influence a government official to benefit the Guptas, or that he breached the Executive Ethics Members Act.

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