Fana Hlongwane. Picture: THE TIMES/MOELETSI MABE
Fana Hlongwane. Picture: THE TIMES/MOELETSI MABE

Controversial South African businessman Fana Hlongwane has been named as one of a network of agents hired by Rolls-Royce, Britain’s leading manufacturing multinational‚ to help it land lucrative contracts in at least 12 different countries‚ sometimes allegedly using bribes.

Hlongwane was at the centre of the arms-deal scandal and‚ more recently‚ identified as the "fixer" who took Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas to meet the Guptas last year.

In a report published on the Guardian website on Monday, a confidential contract shows that in 2005‚ Rolls-Royce signed Hlongwane up as a commercial consultant to promote its business in SA.

"Hlongwane has previously denied that he or his companies have been involved in any corruption or wrongdoing. He has not been prosecuted for any offences and did not respond to a request for comment‚" the Guardian report said.

The contract naming Hlongwane was among leaked documents and testimony from insiders uncovered in investigation by the Guardian and the BBC. They suggest that Rolls-Royce may have benefited from the use of illicit payments to boost profits for years.

According to the Guardian‚ the network of agents is now the focus of large-scale investigations by anti-corruption agencies in the UK and the US.

"The Guardian understands the inquiries are looking into specific allegations that these hired intermediaries were bribing people.

"Rolls-Royce‚ which sells turbines and engines for passenger jets and military aircraft and is worth an estimated £13-billion‚ declined to answer detailed questions‚" the Guardian said.

In April‚ the Sunday Times reported that Hlongwane had been identified as the "fixer" who took Jonas to meet the Guptas last year.

"A number of insiders with intimate knowledge of the meeting revealed that it was Hlongwane who arranged the meeting at a Sandton hotel where Jonas was offered the finance minister post while Nhlanhla Nene was still in office‚" the Sunday Times reported.

It quoted an ANC insider as saying Hlongwane was a regular visitor to the Gupta compound in Saxonwold and close to President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane.

"Hlongwane is also a business partner to the president’s former legal adviser‚ advocate Linda Makatini‚ a business associate of Duduzane’s at Deviate Information Technology‚" the report said.

Hlongwane at the time did not respond to requests for comment from the Sunday Times.

Attempts by TMG Digital to get comment from Hlongwane on the Rolls-Royce claims were unsuccessful.

Hlongwane was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Seriti arms-deal commission. He was alleged to have been a middle-man in some deals when he was as an adviser to then Defence Minister Joe Modise.

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