'Gupta pal' in R380m SABC licence-fee deal

14 August 2016 - 02:00 By STEPHAN HOFSTATTER


Politically connected businessman Kuben Moodley stands to rake in R380-million from a suspect debt-collection deal with the SABC authorised by the broadcaster's acting CEO, James Aguma. Moodley is a former special adviser to Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and golf partner of Salim Essa, a kingpin in the Gupta empire. He is also a former business associate of Mark Pamensky, a director of the Gupta family's company Oakbay Resources and Energy.Internal documents seen by the Sunday Times reveal that Aguma awarded the contract to Moodley's company LornaVision last year without going out to tender. The SABC's executive committee approved deviating from normal tender processes in appointing LornaVision on June 24 last year, a day after it got tax clearance.The committee's resolution only makes provision for LornaVision creating and implementing a pilot collections system and being paid a 10% cut of 10,000 licence renewals a month. But in its contract the scope was expanded to include being paid a cut for collecting from pirate viewers, too. SABC sources said this was never authorised.The documents show LornaVision was also paid its consulting fees before all services were rendered. Three weeks after LornaVision was appointed it invoiced the SABC the full consulting fee of R2.1-million for its 24-month pilot upfront - and was paid in full six weeks later.block_quotes_start I am told there is a great loss and LornaVision is not delivering. They are doing far worse than the debt collectors were doing block_quotes_endOne official who queried the payment found this "disturbing". "The supplier was appointed for a two-year duration but the full amount has already been paid to the supplier without clarity if all deliverables have been executed," the official said in an e-mail written to his manager, which the Sunday Times has seen.According to LornaVision's contract, Moodley's company stands to make a total of R383.5-million if it meets its proposed targets.This consists of its consulting fee and a further R6.3-million from its 10% cut from existing clients, plus 40% of money collected from pirate viewers in the first year and 35% in the second.Pirate viewers are those who own TV sets without a licence.In its proposal to the SABC, LornaVision said it would collect licence fees worth R500-million a year from 1.8million pirate viewers. The company stands to make an additional R375-million if it meets its pirate-viewer collection targets.SABC sources said its licence revenue collection had not improved after the work was taken from debt collectors and the broadcaster's own internal licence-fee division and given to LornaVision."We're talking hundreds of millions - already I am told there is a great loss and LornaVision is not delivering. They are doing far worse than the debt collectors were doing," said one source.story_article_left1"It's a gold mine," said another source. "They are invoicing the SABC millions every month but we aren't seeing the revenue shoot up. All invoices are personally approved by James Aguma."The SABC's legal department had warned the contract was irregular but officials who raised their concerns were threatened with suspension, the sources said.Moodley did not respond to detailed questions, including the nature of his relationship with Zwane and Essa, his company's performance and commission earned and how it came to hear the SABC required its services in the absence of an advertised tender."This is a contingency-based agreement, meaning the company does not earn any return if it does not recover," he said in a text message. "All governance processes were followed. Who my acquaintances are is irrelevant to the matter on hand, further I am not currently an advisor to the DMR [Department of Mineral Resources]."He threatened legal action should he be "defamed".Aguma did not respond to repeated requests for comment.SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said: "The SABC's TV licence department has faced audit issues over the years and a team was put together to deal with them. The people brought in have expertise in dealing with such matters and are doing a good job. The chief financial officer has the delegation and authority to oversee organisational financial matters. The SABC will not further discuss or conduct its internal business operations in the media space."In its presentation to the SABC, LornaVision, which was formed in 2014, claimed to have developed a "bespoke digital engagement solution" ideal for collecting licence fees and to have "spearheaded ... dedicated techniques to identify pirate viewers".stephanh@sundaytimes.co.za

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