Motlanthe silent on Iran 'bribe' report
A provisional report on an investigation into allegations that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe's partner, Gugu Mtshali, tried to solicit a bribe for a sanctions-busting deal with Iran is to be kept under wraps - for now.
The document, which was compiled by the public protector, is believed to have been completed late last week.
Though the public protector's office yesterday said a confidential copy had been given to Motlanthe and "all other relevant parties", the deputy president's spokesman, Thabo Masebe, denied it had been received.
"We know nothing of it. Even if we did, we would not be making a public statement. If any comment is to be made on this matter it will be made by the deputy president to the public protector," he said.
Mtshali and her close associates allegedly gave political support for a sanction-busting deal in return for R104-million.
The allegations were revealed in an exposé by the Sunday Times.
Motlanthe asked the public protector to investigate the newspaper's reported claims.
The public protector's report is believed to have relied heavily on an audit commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry.
The audit report, known as the Grant Thornton report, was presented as the first independent proof that officials solicited political support for the company 360 Aviation.
It found that Department of Trade and Industry officials were guilty of "gross negligence" in giving 360 Aviation an assurance in writing that the government supported its R2-billion helicopter deal with Iran.
"The officials failed to protect the interests of South Africa at large ... thereby placing South Africa at risk of engaging in sanctions-busting deals with Iran," the report said.
The Sunday Times reported that 360 Aviation's managing director, Barry Oberholzer, was promised "government support" in return for a payment of R104-million at a secret meeting at a Johannesburg restaurant in February 2011.
It was also reported that Mtshali, her business associate Joe Mboweni, and former De Beers executive Raisaka Masebelanga attended this meeting.
A recording made at the meeting allegedly reveals that Masebelanga asked for R10-million for a letter from his department endorsing the deal, and another R94-million in shares for continued government support for the deal - saying "there is nothing for mahala".
Kgalalelo Masibi, spokesman for the public protector, said the document had been classified until all the parties had commented on it.
"The final report will be made public in 15 working days," she said.
The Department of Trade and Industry's spokesman, Sidwell Medupe, was unavailable for comment.