SOEs are acting against those responsible for financial losses, says Pravin Gordhan
‘That will send the right message — that malfeasance will not be tolerated,’ the public enterprises minister told the Zondo commission
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan told the state capture inquiry on Wednesday that state-owned enterprises (SOEs) were starting to take action against those who were responsible for financial loss through malfeasance.
A number of the country's SOEs and their executives have been embroiled in allegations of state capture.
Gordhan, at his third day of testimony at the commission, submitted that the inquiry ‘‘follow the money’’ and request a full account of all transactions by any Gupta-related company and related individuals that had gone through bank accounts.
By doing this, the commission would be better placed to determine which activities were related to criminality and malfeasance. and would assist SOEs and taxpayers to recover funds that were lost.
Evidence leader advocate Paul Pretorius asked Gordhan whether civil methods were being considered and used in relation to SOEs’ loss of finances. Gordhan said the boards of various SOEs were looking into forensic reports that were currently available or that they had initiated.
He used the example of Transnet suing its former CEO, Siyabonga Gama.
The state-owned rail and freight company is suing Gama for R166m, which the utility says was an overpayment made to Gupta-linked Regiments Capital.
This relates to a consulting contract awarded to Regiments as part of Transnet’s R54bn procurement process of 1,064 locomotives, which has been the subject of various investigations.
A summons has been served on Gama. The former CEO is also fighting his axing from Transnet in the labour court in Johannesburg.
On Wednesday, Gordhan said there would be opportunities available to SOEs to recover money stolen through financial intelligence centres across the globe, tax authorities and mutual assistance agreements.
However, he said one avenue that had not been exercised enough was the asset forfeiture unit (AFU). Gordhan said the AFU should start freezing people's assets.
‘‘That will send the right message — that malfeasance will not be tolerated,’’ he said.