South Africa


Bosasa goes under as banks ditch company linked to State Capture

Angelo Agrizzi testifying at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, 23 January 2019. YouTube/SABC

It’s the end of the road for African Global Operations: the company formerly known as Bosasa, and made notorious by the testimony of ex-executive Angelo Agrizzi at the Zondo Commission. A statement released on Monday and signed by chairperson Joe Gumede said that the company was entering voluntary liquidation as a result of local banks closing its accounts due to “extensive reputational damage” – for which it blames the media.

It is with deep regret that the Board of Directors announce the voluntary liquidation of the African Global Operations group of companies”, a statement signed by chairperson Joe Gumede announced on Monday.

African Global Operations executive director Papa Leshabane has confirmed to Daily Maverick that the statement is legitimate.

The announcement followed reports that local banks FNB and Absa had informed African Global Operations that company accounts would be closed, including the family trust account of former chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi.

This was confirmed in the company’s statement, which said that it had received formal notification of the closure of its accounts by the end of February 2019.

African Global Operations stated further that it had attempted to open accounts with other financial institutions, both local and international, without success. It placed the blame for this on bad publicity.

The extensive reputational damage in the past few months, occasioned by negative media reports, has resulted in financial institutions’ determination that the African Global group poses a reputational risk for them as clients,” it stated.

No mention was made of the catalyst for the “negative media reports”, which was the damaging testimony given by Agrizzi at the Zondo Commission into State Capture. Testifying in January, the former executive told the commission how the facilities management company bribed its way into lucrative state contracts worth an estimated R12-billion.

Among the figures Agrizzi named as receiving bribes from the company and its founder Gavin Watson were former president Jacob Zuma and current Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.

Monday’s statement also made no mention of the bribery and corruption charges brought against seven former company officials, including Agrizzi, on 6 February following an operation by the Hawks.

The statement admitted no wrongdoing, painting a successful and economically valuable company as scapegoated by bad press.

The decisions made by the financial institutions are not based on the African Global Group’s liquidity status, financial stability, operational performance or growth forecasts,” it said.

On the contrary, the group is both factually and commercially solvent. Tragically, the group will be unable to trade without a bank account.”

The company described the effects of its liquidation as “devastating” and “unparalleled”, pointing to its 4,500 employees, 108 interns and 3,100 suppliers. It noted, however, that operations would continue as normal “until informed otherwise”.

It thanked its stakeholders for the “invaluable journey, experiences, memories”.

The statement also sought to portray a company which actively transformed South Africa for the better, although the testimony heard by the Zondo Commission told the story of a firm which knowingly fleeced the state out of millions of rand through inflated tender bids. Those affected by the company’s alleged fraudulent bids included prisoners in correctional services facilities for which the former Bosasa won catering contracts.

Other questionable state contracts affected the Gauteng education department and the Limpopo social development department.

We have made a substantial positive contribution in different (sic) of society where our teams have operated,” the company said on Monday.

Our vision has always been to provide service excellence and in so doing, impact and change the lives of thousands of people, for the better. We have accomplished this, and it is a fact that cannot be refuted. This work will forever remain and will not go unnoticed as an indelible legacy transforming lives for the better.” DM


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