Carol Paton Writer at Large
Musa Zwane. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Musa Zwane. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

Logistics firm Bolloré Africa, which was named in a forensic audit as having improperly won a tender from South African Airways Technical (SAAT), says that many of the findings in the report are factually incorrect and that it was not interviewed by the investigators.

The logistics tender is one of three suspicious tenders at SAAT investigated by consultancy Open Water, which had been continually postponed and restarted since 2013. The other two tenders were for component support and aircraft tyres.

SAA acting CEO Musa Zwane said the logistics and tyre investigation reports had been accepted by the SAA board at its meeting at the end of August.

In the logistics report, the claim was made that Bolloré was found to have misrepresented its capacity, black economic empowerment status and its infrastructure and should have been disqualified.

It was claimed it employed the daughter of a senior SAAT employee who sat in on the bid committee for the tender.

Tony Stenning, regional MD at Bolloré Africa Logistics and chairman of the company, strongly disagreed with the findings. He said the firm had not received a copy of the Open Water audit report and only former board members had been approached for interviews.

"No one approached me as chairman of the board, nor did anyone approach any of our shareholders," he said.

He rejected the findings in the report, of which he had been made aware only through media reports, Stenning said.

The logistics tender for SAAT had since lapsed, since after receiving the letter of award in 2016, there "had been no activity from SAAT" to enter negotiations and Bolloré had eventually withdrawn its bid in June this year, he said.

Zwane said he did not know whether Open Water had interviewed Bolloré for the report.

In the case of components support, the SAA board had returned the report to the consultancy as it had neglected to interview members of the SAAT board, which had revised the tender recommendation it had received. Lufthansa had scored highest for the bid, with specialist aviation company AAR second and Air France third. However, the tender committee had recommended Air France, but the decision was overturned by the board and awarded to AAR.

The SAA board wanted to ensure that directors were also interviewed over the tender as a long list of employees had been recommended for disciplinary action and directors had not been asked to account for their decision.

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