AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Transnet graft: Brian Molefe and fellow top exec Anoj Singh get R50,000 bail after arrest
Former Transnet CEO Brian Molefe and former group chief financial officer Anoj Singh – described as the ‘primary architects’ of State Capture at Transnet – and others have been arrested in connection with corruption worth R398.4-million at the parastatal.
The accused appeared in two separate groups in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Palm Ridge on Monday morning. First in the dock were former chief financial officer Garry Pita, Eric Wood, CEO of the defunct Trillian Capital Partners, Phetolo Ramosebudi, alleged “Gupta fixer” Kuben Moodley and Siyabonga Gama. They first appeared in court in May 2022.
The second group of suspects consisted of Molefe, Singh and Regiments Capital directors Nevin Pillay and Litha Nyhonyha. They were arrested by the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) Investigating Directorate (ID), assisted by the Hawks.
ID spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka confirmed in a statement that the former executives’ arrests had been affected by thorough arrangement with their legal representatives. They had been charged with contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), fraud, corruption and money laundering.
Molefe was at the helm of Transnet from 2011 to 2015, a hands-on CEO at the state-owned freight, rail and logistics company – for all the wrong reasons.
Moodley was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport in September 2021, shortly before he was scheduled to board a flight to Dubai.
Outlining the charges, Seboka said: “The charges stem from the locomotives transaction advisory tender which was awarded to the McKinsey-led consortium in 2012, resulting in the procurement of 1,064 locomotives worth over R54-billion.
“Regiments Capital was irregularly onboarded and ended up benefiting from the irregular appointment by Transnet in respect of the contract. The contract value and scope for the services required was later escalated to over *R305-million.”
This agreement, she explained, included among other services the sourcing of the China Development Bank loan and the club loan – in the amount of $2.5-billion – on behalf of Transnet (equivalent to R30-billion at the time). The accused also face charges linked to the R93.4-million paid to Trillian Asset Management in 2015.
The matter against former Transnet bigwigs relates to a dodgy R93-million double payment flowing from the parastatal’s deal for 1,064 locomotives.
The senior executives were granted bail of R50,000 each and the State issued further arrest warrants for Salim Essa and Ashok Narayan.
“The charges are partly related to the Zondo Commission and more arrests can be expected,” Seboka said.
Affidavits in respect of Molefe, Pillay, Nyhonhya and Singh were read into the record for the bail application.
All four indicated they are aware of the seriousness of the cases against them and intend to plead not guilty. They also informed the court that they are not a flight risk, do not intend to flee and evade trial, interfere with the investigation or witnesses or hand in their passports, and that it is in the interest of justice that they should be released on bail.
Outlining reasons he should be granted bail, Molefe said in his affidavit: “I’m suffering from diabetes and hypertension. I pay R12,750 per month for school fees for my minor children. I have a civil judgment against me with the outstanding debt relating to the cost of R420,000. In July 2022, I had another civil judgment against me of an amount of approximately R5-million and I am appealing the judgment.
“In the month August 2022 I had a summons issued against me for the recovery of the amount of R4,300,000. I’m defending this action. I receive a monthly pension of R52,000 per month.”
Regarding his assets, the court heard that Molefe owns a property, an Audi A4, a Nissan Navara, a Ford Bantam, a Harley Davidson motorbike and BMW motorbike.
State advocate Thembela Bakamele informed the court that the addresses and properties of Molefe, Pillay, Nyhonhya and Singh had been verified, adding that the State did not oppose their bail application.
“Most of the accused are out on R50,000 bail and it’s fair that they be treated like the others. The accused must avail themselves to any date set by the State and any of them who wants to travel overseas make necessary application via the investigating officer and we will bring it under the court’s attention,” Bakamele said.
The four were released on bail of R50,000 each, with strict conditions.
Advocate Piet Du Plessis, appearing for Moodley, told the court the matter had initially been postponed to Monday for a progress report relating to what the State had said last time, that the investigation would be finalised by Monday and the State provided the defence with the final charge sheet as well as disclosure.
A letter by Moodley, read into the record, indicated that the matter had been enrolled on 29 March 2021 when he was granted bail. The matter was subsequently postponed to 28 February 2022 for further investigation.
The court heard that, during his appearance on 29 September 2021, Moodley was handed a draft sheet informing him that the 33 persons and entities of interest would be joined as accused in the matter.
To this end, the letter states, the matter was postponed for further investigation and the joining of the co-accused to 28 February 2022. However, by that date no further accused had been joined and the State informed the court that such joinder would be done between 28 February and 27 May 2022 in order to ensure that all accused intended to be joined by the State would be appearing with Moodley and accused two on 27 May 2022, in order for the pre-trial date to be dealt with, the provision of the final charge sheet as well as disclosure to the defence.
Read in Daily Maverick: “Brian Molefe, Anoj Singh arrest: Five stories to bring you up to speed”
Du Plessis further told the court: “We repeat our submission and it is clear that our client was prematurely arrested and while the matter against him was enrolled the State was clearly not in a position to proceed with the matter.
“Our instructions, therefore, are to keep the State to their undertaking, as placed in record, that by the next appearance the State would have completed the joinder of all accused who they intend prosecuting in the matter, and that the State be in a position to furnish the defence with a final charge sheet in order for the pre-trial process to continue without further delay.”
Bakamele gave the undertaking that the charge sheet and full disclosure will be made available to the legal teams a week before their next appearance.
The accused will return to the Palm Ridge Specialised Crimes Court on 14 October, before Magistrate Emmanuel Magampa. DM
*This article was corrected to reflect that the value and scope for the services was later escalated to over R305-million, not R305-billion.