Guptas used web of companies in huge cash cover-up, Zondo probe ...

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Guptas used web of companies in huge cash cover-up, Zondo probe hears

Money laundered between host of shell firms that scored massive contracts with parastatals, banker reveals

Journalist


Account records from Standard Bank have revealed an intricate web of alleged money-laundering, through which hundreds of millions of rands from state-owned entities were siphoned to small Gupta-linked shell companies.
The state capture inquiry heard on Tuesday how the Gupta family and their business associates set up a string of companies that scored huge contracts with parastatals such as Eskom and Transnet, and moved money between one another to disguise its source.
Testifying before the commission, Standard Bank’s former head of compliance, Ian Sinton, detailed a list of transactions since 2014 taken from the accounts of Gupta-linked businesses like Homix, Cutting Edge Commerce, Bapu Trading, Chivita and Regiments Capital.
The bank had conducted an internal audit of the Gupta accounts after numerous reports of alleged corruption emerged in the media.
In one instance, Standard Bank found that Eskom paid Cutting Edge Commerce about R71m on May 16 2016.
Three days later, Cutting Edge transferred R10m to the Guptas’ Sahara Computers. Another R10m payment was made to Sahara thereafter, on May 23.
In August that year, Cutting Edge also paid the Gupta-linked Trillian about R18m.
Sinton also revealed the account records of Regiments Capital, which showed that the company received more than R100m in business from Transnet in 2014 alone. But this money was not kept in Regiments’ account.
The money was, almost entirely, siphoned off to two Gupta-linked entities, Homix and Chivita, both of which have since been exposed as shell companies.
“There were large transfers into the account that seemingly came from Transnet, and shortly thereafter there were large amounts paid away. Large sums of monies were sent to Chivita PTY Ltd and Homix PTY Ltd,” Sinton said.
Between February 1 and February 28 2014, R5.1m was paid to Chivita after Regiments received about R5m from Transnet. Regiments also paid about R5.1m to the South African Revenue Service and received a further R45.4m from Transnet that month.
In May that year, Regiments received another R22m from the parastatal, and thereafter paid R15m to Chivita and R6m to Homix. Then in July, about R22m in total was paid to Homix and Chivita.
In August, Transnet paid about R34m to Regiments, R25m of which was paid to the two Gupta-linked entities. Such activities continued until December that year.
The bank further found that all the funds that had pooled in Homix’s account were transferred to another company, Bapu Trading.
In 2016, Standard Bank closed all accounts associated with the Gupta family and their business associations.
He previously told the commission, at his initial testimony in September 2018, that Standard Bank was summoned to parliament’s inter-ministerial committee, chaired by former minister and state capture-implicated Mosebenzi Zwane, where the bank was “persuaded” to retract its decision to close bank accounts belonging to Gupta-linked businesses.
He said it came after the bank was invited to another meeting at Luthuli House – attended by then ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte and ANC economic transformation chairperson Enoch Godongwana – to discuss the same matter.
The commission will continue on Wednesday, with testimony from Optimum coal mine business rescue practitioner Piers Marsden.

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