Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Former Gupta-linked Trillian Asset Management’s tentacles in Transnet extended further than dodgy locomotive deals, according to a report from the Public Affairs Research Institute that has been handed to Parliament.

The institute’s executive director, Ivor Chipkin, who revealed this on Friday evening at the inaugural Drakensberg Inclusive Growth Forum initiated by the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation, said the rot could be traced back to Malusi Gigaba taking over as public enterprises minister in 2010 and Brian Molefe assuming the helm at Transnet in 2011.

“Never mind the crane and locomotive deals which are well known. What we found – and we’ve found the memo which is almost certainly illegal – is that Transnet’s treasury outsourced its function to Trillian,” he told Business Day.

Trillian allegedly used its position to hedge major deals using Transnet’s pension fund under instruction from Stanley Shane, a former Transnet board member who has been linked to the Gupta family and Trillian.

Malusi Gigaba. File photo: ELMOND JIYANE
Malusi Gigaba. File photo: ELMOND JIYANE

Shane was also the chairman of a Transnet acquisitions committee that handled and signed off tenders.

“The pension fund needs to agree to such a transaction and on behalf of the pension fund, it looks like Shane agreed,” said Chipkin. “If the deals went wrong, it would have wiped out the pensions of thousands of Transnet workers. It’s mind-boggling,” he said.

Transnet paid Trillian to arrange a multibillion-rand loan needed to buy locomotives, fuelling the debate that key state-owned enterprises (SOEs) had been captured.

President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered the Special Investigating Unit to probe allegations of maladministration at Eskom and Transnet earlier in 2018 for actions since January 2010.

“It includes the appointment of controversial contractors McKinsey, Trillian and Regiments Capital to do work for Eskom and Transnet, and investigating any undisclosed or unauthorised interests which Eskom and Transnet employees had in service providers contracted to their employers,” the Presidency said at the time.

The report will be part of Parliament’s state capture inquiry.

The Inclusive Growth Forum also heard scathing attacks on state capture from former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, who told Business Day that the state’s credibility had been weakened under state capture. “We are now in a process of rehabilitation, but this is going to take a while. The more difficult task is going to be restructuring and managing them [SOEs],” he said.