Manyi: What suspicious money dealings?

Red flag: In its probe, Financial Intelligence Centre discovered alleged irregularities between the Guptas, their businesses and associates

30 August 2017 - 06:54 By GENEVIEVE QUINTAL and Graeme Hosken
Mzwanele Manyi, whose company Lodidox owns The New Age and ANN7, is convinced that he bought a media business from Oakbay Investments which is above board.
Mzwanele Manyi, whose company Lodidox owns The New Age and ANN7, is convinced that he bought a media business from Oakbay Investments which is above board.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

The owner of the Guptas' Infinity Media, Mzwanele Manyi, says the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) report showing suspicious money transactions involving the business he bought last week is of no concern to him.

"I am comfortable with a recent court ruling (Gordhan vs Oakbay) which threw that report out, that everything is above board with the company I have bought," said Manyi.

Last week Oakbay Investments announced its withdrawal from its media interests, selling its shareholding of Infinity Media and TNA to Lodidox, owned by Manyi and management, for a combined R450-million.

In August last year the intelligence centre listed 72 suspicious transactions from Gupta-linked bank accounts.

Manyi said once the report was struck off by the Pretoria High Court during former finance minister Pravin Gordhan's case against Oakbay Investments, he was "comfortable" with his decision to buy the company.

"It does not concern me now. If there was any unlawfulness, the courts would have said so. They gave no value to the FIC report. I trust our country's courts in their judgments," said Manyi. "The only people who have ever convicted the Guptas are the media and the public and that has only ever been done on a litany of allegations and no prima facie evidence."

He said people needed to understand that the intelligence centre merely raised suspicions. "Their suspicions do not necessarily mean that transactions are irregular or unlawful. To say so without evidence or due diligence being conducted is wrong."

But Simon Howell, University of Cape Town criminologist, said the centre was solid in its investigations and did not make a noise about a transaction unless it was sound for it to do so.

Howell said if the centre raised suspicions, then the security cluster took them very seriously, "as should the public".

Gordhan approached the court last year in a bid to get a declaratory order stating that he, as minister, could not interfere in the relationship between banks and their private clients.

The Guptas had sought his help when SA's four big banks - Absa, FNB, Standard Bank and Nedbank - closed their accounts.

The court dismissed Gordhan's application.

The report, which was attached to Gordhan's application, was also struck out.

Financial documents, including cross-border foreign exchange transactions and the intelligence centre's report, seen by The Times, gives insight into how the Guptas and their associates moved money.

In the intelligence centre's report, four suspicious transactions were flagged.

These included:

- Multiple transactions on March 31 2016 involving TNA Media and Atul Gupta;

- Suspicious transactions on April 7 2016 between Infinity Media, Atul Gupta and Varun Gupta totalling R24.1-million;

- A suspicious transaction on April 8 2016 between Infinity Media, Atul Gupta and Varun Gupta totalling R6.9-million; and

- Suspicious transactions on April 13 2016 between TNA Media and Atul Gupta totalling R7.9-million.


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