The Black Business Council (BBC) has hired auditing firm SizweNtsalubaGobodo to look into a R5m donation from Airports Company SA (Acsa), which did not make it into the business lobby group’s coffers.

The BBC this week denied it had suspended its secretary and chairman, but was unable to explain what happened to the money or to account for it.

The audit firm will conduct an investigation, the lobby group said in a statement released on Wednesday, to determine why a donation meant for the council was not deposited correctly into its bank account. It will also develop a strategy for avoiding such occurrences, create a new fundraising scheme and recover the Acsa donation.

BBC secretary George Sebulela said: "[Acsa] has confirmed that R5m was donated to sponsor the council. It was later discovered that the Acsa donation had not been deposited into the BBC’s bank account."

The BBC denied that Sebulela and chairman Sello Rasethaba had been suspended in connection with the missing money.

"The [council] ... would like to categorically state that the chairman [and] ... secretary-general were never suspended [and] are not at all implicated [in] the Acsa donation, other than being nominated to lead the investigation," read its statement.

However, a group of council stalwarts would now steer the investigation "to avoid tension among the national office bearers so that they can focus on organisational activities".

The lobby group pointed a finger at Dominic Ntsele, its former chief fundraiser. It will identify and appoint a legal firm to institute proceedings to recover the funds from Ntsele.

In 2016, Acsa CEO Bongani Maseko hired Ntsele, a well-known spin-doctor, to do public relations for him.

In a document addressed to the Acsa chairman and board members, a group of staff members, which calls itself the Acsa Employee Anti-Corruption Movement, said it was alleged that Maseko had paid two companies belonging to Ntsele more than R9m.

Sebulela said the BBC had cut ties with Ntsele as a result of the mystery of the Acsa donation.

Ntsele failed to respond to requests for comment.

An Acsa spokesperson said: "At various times, including before the tenure of the current CEO of Airports Company, Mr Ntsele provided professional and consulting services to Airports Company. There is no ongoing business relationship with him."

Instead, Acsa said, it had donated the money to the council after its president, Danisa Baloyi, had requested support in order to lobby for economic transformation — and it had not been based on any representation by Ntsele.

Acsa added it would let the council investigate the matter.

"We usually require beneficiaries of sponsorship and other corporate support to report on how the funds were applied.

"We anticipate receiving communication in this regard from the [council] ... in due course. Airports Company will then consider its response," said the spokesperson.

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