Gupta-owned mine rehabilitation funds case postponed to May 31

19 April 2018 - 16:54 By Ernest Mabuza
Optimum Coal.
Optimum Coal.
Image: Jeremy Glyn

The application by the trustees of mining rehabilitation funds of two Gupta-owned companies - to reverse the attachment of about R1.7-billion by the National Director of Public Prosecutions - will be heard on May 31.

The High Court in Pretoria made this order‚ by agreement between the parties‚ after the court had allowed Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) to be part of the matter.

Thursday was set down as the date that the court was to hear a reconsideration application by the Trustees for the Time Being of the Optimum Mine Rehabilitation Trust and Trustees for the Time Being of the Koornfontein Mine Rehabilitation Trust.

The trustees wanted the court to reconsider a court order obtained by the National Director of Public Prosecutions which preserved the mining rehabilitation funds of Optimum Mine and Koornfontein Mine that were held by the Bank of Baroda.

The bank left the country at the end of March.

The March order said the funds in the trusts must be transferred from the Bank of Baroda to Nedbank for safekeeping‚ with interest.

The NDPP sought to preserve this money‚ which is set aside by legislation and only to be used for the rehabilitation of the mines at the end of their operating life‚ on a suspicion that these funds had been irregularly used with the blessing of the trustees.

The money is to stay with Nedbank until a forfeiture order is granted.

The amounts involved are about R1.4-billion in the Optimum rehabilitation trust and R280-million in the Koornfontein rehabilitation trust.

Before the matter was due to be heard on Thursday‚ lawyers for the trustees for Optimum and Koornhof objected to Outa being involved in the proceedings as it had no interest in the matter and had filed its application to be joined in the proceedings at a very late stage.

Outa filed its application to be joined in the proceedings on Wednesday.

In its application‚ Outa said it had obtained an interim order in the Pretoria High Court in September last year freezing the same funds from the Bank of Baroda.

The return date for its interim order is May 31. Outa suggested in its submissions on Wednesday that the trustees’ application be heard together with Outa’s application on the return date on May 31.

While counsel for the trustees for Optimum and Koornhof mine rehabilitation trusts objected to the admission of Outa‚ Judge Bill Prinsloo dismissed the objection and said Outa had a direct and substantial interest in the outcome of the case.

After an adjournment‚ counsel for Optimum Mike Hellens SC said all parties were agreeable that the matter be postponed until May 31.

Prinsloo ordered‚ by agreement between the parties‚ that the matter be postponed until May 31. 

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