Mining funds intact for Gupta operations‚ says Zwane

28 August 2017 - 13:16 By Genevieve Quintal
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. File photo.
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. File photo.
Image: Sizwe Ndingane

Rehabilitation funds worth R1.6-billion for the mines owned by Gupta-owned Tegeta are intact‚ the department of mineral resources said.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) wrote to Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane on Friday asking him to ensure that the funds are ring-fenced and secured‚ following the announcement that the family was selling its mining asset.

Outa believed the imminent closure of the Guptas' Bank of Baroda account may have put the funds - a R280m Koornfontein fund and Optimum Colliery's R1.6bn fund - at risk.

Zwane has until Friday to respond to Outa. If he fails to do so the civil rights group will take the matter to court.

“The bank and the company concerned have a responsibility to notify the department when there are any changes in a rehabilitation fund account registered in the records of the department‚” the department said.

“Such notification has not yet been received by the department. The rehabilitation funds are still intact and subject to annual review.”

Oakbay Investments announced the sale of Tegeta for R2.97-billion. The company‚ which includes Optimum Coal‚ was sold to Swiss-based Charles King SA‚ owned by United Arab Emirates businessman Amin al-Zarooni.

The sale is subject to regulations and conditions in the agreement.

Outa asked Zwane to confirm that the Koornfontein and Optimum mine rehabilitation trust funds remained intact and that no money had been moved from the accounts.

Last year‚ amaBhungane reported that the Koornfontein fund had been raided by Tegeta.

In a written response to parliament last year‚ the mineral resources minister said the Optimum Colliery's fund was held by Bank of Baroda.

Oakbay Investments has not responded to questions sent to it regarding the funds.

Outa also wants Zwane to provide the current values of the funds.

The department of mineral resources said it has been notified of the intention to sell Tegeta.

The sale was subject to processes outlined in section 11 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act. It said Tegeta was yet to submit its section 11 application.

“The department welcomes all investors into the mining industry‚ both local and foreign‚” it said.

- BusinessLIVE - Additional reporting by Kyle Cowan