Inside Transnet’s ‘looting meeting’ for Trillian’s R41m dodgy deal
Transnet chairperson Linda Mabaso held meeting at her son's home while mourning her husband's death
Transnet chairperson Linda Mabaso was so keen to approve a R41-million payment to a Gupta-linked company for a dodgy property proposal that she held a special board meeting at her son's home while she was mourning the death of her husband.
A dark cloud had visited the Mabaso family following the passing of her husband and, in accordance with African custom, she could not leave her home.Instead of waiting until after the funeral to get back to business, Mabaso, who has various links to the controversial family, called the special board meeting at the Dainfern home of her son Malcolm, who is Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane’s special advisor.
At the meeting, they resolved to pay R41-million to Trillian for a proposal to sell off various properties — including the iconic Carlton Centre in Johannesburg’s city centre — to enhance Transnet’s balance sheet.
Trillian’s intention was to offer the same service to other parastatals, including Eskom.
Non-core estate assets worth R14-billion would be sold to a fund created by Trillian and Fuel Property Group (FPG), in which former Eskom board member Mark Pamensky was a director. The properties would be sold at market value and developed, with returns flowing back to the Transnet.FPG would charge a 2% “fund management fee” and take a 20% cut “of the uplift created” once the properties had been developed and sold.
Although the proposal was never implemented, Trillian was paid R41-million for it.
A high-level source at the state-owned company confirmed the meeting, saying: “There was a special board meeting called in July at Malcolm Mabaso’s house to consider certain urgent submissions. Among them was a submission on the Property Fund.
“They took the best prime properties and included them there. This special meeting at Malcolm’s house was during the week when his dad had just passed on. Instead of going there to convey condolences, there was a looting meeting,” said the source, who did not want to be named due to previous whistleblower witchhunts at the parastatal.
Business Day recently reported that a legal opinion obtained by Eskom suggested former Oakbay director Mark Pamensky drew up the scheme while privy to inside information as chairperson of Eskom’s investment and finance sub-committee.
The source said Stanley Shane, who was at the time chairperson of the Transnet board’s acquisitions and disposals sub-committee, was a big fan of the idea. Shane did not disclose to the board that he had a relationship with Trillian as another company he is a director in, Integrated Capital Management (ICM), had essentially set up Trillian.At the time he said Trillian never benefitted from his presence on the Transnet board and this month the parastatal told Business Day it had satisfied itself there was no conflict of interest.
Shane said he had played no role in the FPG proposal to Transnet, “which wasn’t raised let alone approved by the board” and that he had never owned shares in or been employed by Trillian.
This is despite testimony by Trillian whistleblower Bianca Goodson to a parliamentary portfolio committee investigating claims of state capture at Eskom that Shane attended Trillian meetings to discuss Transnet work.
This week acting Transnet spokesperson Sean Badal said African custom dictated that Mabaso be confined to her home during the time of mourning. “Please also note that the meeting discussed other urgent and critical matters”.
An investigative report on Trillian, released last year by advocate Geoff Budlender, found Trillian had submitted an invoice for their proposal and had been paid R41-million for it.
Badal confirmed the tender had never been awarded because none of the bidders met the parastatal’s criteria. He said Transnet had received value for the work done to produce its property strategy.