Former Gupta execs and ex-DDG Mineral Resources arrested – NPA

Investigating Directorate says the accused are in court for R107.5 million Optimum Coal Holding rehabilitation fraud

Former Gupta Company Directors and ex-DDG Mineral Resources arrested and in court for R107.5 million Optimum Coal Holding rehabilitation fraud

25 May 2022

Former Tegeta Exploration and Resources Director Ronica Ragavan, former trustee of Optimum Coal Mine, Pushpaveni Govender and former DDG in the Department of Mineral Resources, Joel Raphela were arrested and appeared in the Randburg Magistrates’ Court this morning.

They stand accused of fraud, forgery, uttering, perjury and money laundering of R107.5million for mine rehabilitation funds for the Optimum Coal Mine Trust account and Koornfontein Mine Trust account in 2016. The two former company trustees were granted bail of R20 000 each, while Raphela was rushed to hospital during court proceedings for medical attention.

The companies also charged and to be summoned at the next court appearance are Optimum Coal Mine, Koornfontein Mines and Tegeta Exploration and Resources.

In 2015 Tegeta took control of Optimum Mine Rehabilitation Trust and the Koornfontein Rehabilitation Trust. In terms of the sale agreement the rehabilitation funds had to be converted into cash by 15 February 2016. On 23 May 2016, R7.5 million was transferred from the Optimum Mine Rehabilitation Trust account at Standard Bank to Optimum Coal Mine, and the amount was used as part of the payment of

R26.4 million to Klipbank Mining, which is not in accordance with the requirements of the trust, regardless of what the funds were used for. Ragavan and Govender obtained R100 million from the Koorfontein Trust Account in June 2016, to act as surety for a loan in favour of Tegeta for the purchase of Optimum Coal Mine.

The Department of Mineral Resources gave consent in terms of section 11(1) of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) for the disposal of the 100% controlling interest held by Optimum Coal Holdings in Optimum Mine and Koornfontein Mine to Tegeta for mining rights and prospecting rights.

According to the MPRDA, the Minister of Mineral Resources is expected to keep the rehabilitation funds to deal with rehabilitation and remediation of adverse environmental impact of prospecting, exploration and mining operations when a mine is sold off or closes.

The holder of the right or permit must ensure that the financial provision is equal to the amount of the actual costs of implementing the plans to rehabilitate the mine and environment for a period of 10 years after the closure of the mine.

In this case the trustees, so cited in the case and company directors, are accused of orchestrating a scheme where they requested the funds held in the two rehab funds to be transferred into other current company accounts and used for purposes in breach of the Department of mineral resources rules.

Raphela as former DDG stands accused of authorising the funds to be released from the Koornfontein Mine Rehabilitation Trust.

Adv Andrea Johnson assures the nation that the Investigating Directorate (ID), working with the support of the Hawks, is committed to ensuring that those responsible for corruption and facilitating state capture are held criminally accountable and that it will work steadfastly to claw back stolen funds back to the fiscus. The country can expect more of these priority state capture cases to be enrolled soon.

The matter returns to court on 22 June 2022 for adding of further accused.

Issued by Sindisiwe Seboka, Spokesperson, Investigating Directorate, 25 May 2022