Varun Gupta, inside Shiva Uranium, in Haarteesfontien, North West. Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND
Varun Gupta, inside Shiva Uranium, in Haarteesfontien, North West. Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND

The Companies Tribunal has ordered the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) to process the appointment of a business rescue practitioner for the Guptas’ embattled Shiva Uranium. 

It also ordered the CIPC  to withdraw a filing for two other practitioners, citing a clear misunderstanding of the commission’s own functions and powers.

The tribunal’s decision on a dispute over the appointments of rescue practitioners at Shiva was handed down on Tuesday. The conclusion of the process means the business rescue — a provision in the Companies Act for the rehabilitation of distressed entities — can now continue.

As reported by Business Day last week, delays in proceeding with the rescue process have frustrated critical Shiva suppliers, such as the security services, as well as the workers who have not received any income from the mine since July 2018 when operations stopped.

In February 2018 Shiva and eight other Gupta-linked companies were placed under business rescue. Two rescue practitioners stepped down in June and were replaced by Cloete Murray and Christopher Monyela. In September Murray resigned, but before his exit he and Monyela jointly appointed a replacement — Juanito Damons.

The CIPC, however, refused the filing, citing a potential conflict. It then accepted a separate filing to record two new practitioners — Mahier Tayob and Eugene Januarie — who were appointed by the Shiva board.

Monyela argued that a board has no authority to make such appointments once in business rescue. Tayob and Januarie, however, said that in the absence of a senior practitioner, Monyela did not have the authority to administer the company.

In the decision handed down by tribunal member Lindelani Sikhitha, he noted the focus on Monyela’s authority was “strange” because the appointment of Damons was filed by an attorney acting for Shiva and who had power of attorney.

He said the CIPC’s reasons to refuse to accept and process the filing form for Damon’s appointment were irrational and a clear misunderstanding of its powers and functions, and should be set aside.

The tribunal ordered the CIPC to accept and process the form within five working days and also to accept and process the form challenging the appointments of Tayob and Januarie.

The CIPC, Tayob, Januarie and two intervening parties were also ordered to pay Shiva’s and Monyela’s costs.

steynl@businesslive.co.za