R1,7bn in mine rehab funds kept out of Guptas' clutches - OUTA

In terms of settlement fund will be reallocated from Bank of Baroda to the supervision of the DMR

R1.7 billion rehab funds from Gupta grips

The rehabilitation funds for the former Gupta mines are safe.

This follows a settlement reached between the legal representatives of the fund’s Trustees and the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) in the High court in Pretoria on Thursday. The settlement concluded that the fund be reallocated from its frozen state in the Bank of Baroda, to its rightful place under the supervision of the Department of Minerals.

The settlement also protects the rehab funds from being utilised to cover the legal costs incurred by the trustees who sought to keep their grips on the R1.7bn.

“Today we saw justice in our Democracy. The former trustees would have to pay for their legal costs out of their personal pockets,” said Stefanie Fick, Executive Director and Head of Legal Affairs at OUTA. “With conflicted fund administration, the legality of the use of the funds and the former Minister, Mosebenzi Zwane’s absence in action, prompted OUTA to act fast and hold those who abused their authority to account,” Fick added.

On 26 September 2017, the funds held in the Optimum and Koornfontein Mines Rehabilitation Fund were frozen after OUTA obtained interim relief on an urgent basis. The funds were secured specifically to be administered by independent trustees and utilised only towards rehabilitation of the surrounding environment of the aforementioned mines when required.

OUTA investigated the matter regarding the independence of the Trustees of the fund and the use of some of the money. According to Fick, one of the Trustees, Govender, breached her duties by accessing funds. “What's worse is the fact that Govender alone was purporting to act for the Trusts and as sole Trustee, which is illegal as there should be a minimum of two trustees and they must act in the best interest of the trust and independently.”

“This is just another testament to OUTA’s dedication to protecting the taxpayer from carrying the burden of corruption and maladministration. Our legal team have been working very hard behind the scenes for months on this case and we are proud of this end result. Even though we were ready to battle this out in court, the settlement achieved our intended purpose which was to protect these funds,” said OUTA CEO Wayne Duvenage.

To read the full details of this case and its background click here.

Statement issued by Wayne Duvenage OUTA CEO, 26 April 2018