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Trillian staff feel the sting of association with the Guptas

08 October 2017 - 00:02 By SABELO SKITI

Crisis-hit Gupta-linked company Trillian Capital Partners is on its last legs as business sanctions and the backlash of being found to be working with the Gupta family take their toll on the fund manager.
Trillian is one of several businesses feeling the repercussions of being associated with President Jacob Zuma's friends.
There is no business coming in, its bank accounts at First National Bank and Absa in South Africa were all terminated last month due to reputational risk to the banks, and its account at Bank of Baroda could be closed at any minute.The backlash against Trillian and its staff has been severe, Trillian co-founder and executive Daniel Roy said recently as he opened up about how the company had been treated.
Personal banking accounts are being closed, employees are experiencing difficulty in raising personal loans to finance homes and cars, and even the company's underground parking for visitors at the affluent Melrose Arch in Johannesburg has suddenly been terminated.
"We have been tried, found guilty and hung in the court of public opinion," Roy said. "And ... when any of our young management consultants writes on their CV that he worked at Trillian, he won't be taken seriously by any employer."
The Gupta backlash has seen the humiliation of public relations firm Bell Pottinger, which was expelled from UK's Public Relations and Communications Association over its work for the Guptas.
Top international consultancy McKinsey has suspended a senior Africa executive responsible for a dodgy deal with Eskom involving Trillian, and recently six directors left auditing firm KPMG partly over its work for the family, which came at a great cost to South Africa.
"I walk into my synagogue and it's like they're pulling a coffin down the aisle and people just move aside like the parting of the Red Sea," Roy said. "I've had to sit with staff members who are bawling their eyes out because they are being abused by their own family members. People keep saying to me, 'Walk away, walk away, walk away', but I can't because I started this business."My own friends and family ignore me because I am captured. I am a Zupta and living the high life. Family has pulled money they invested with us."
Roy said that several of his staff had come to him in recent months complaining that banks would not grant them credit.
Trillian executives' personal accounts are being reviewed and they regularly get asked to explain money that has been deposited.
The company said it was not at liberty to discuss "the hardships endured by a number of qualified young black professionals as a result of the pernicious onslaught of articles and speculation in the media".
"It is incorrect that the company is no longer conducting business. On the contrary, we remain open for business. Trillian is still trading. The company remains a going concern," it said.
Trillian, which up until June was partly owned by majority shareholder Salim Essa, disgraced finance wunderkind Eric Wood, Roy and an unnamed partner, has been in existence as Trillian Asset Management since 2010. In 2016, the tie-up with Essa and Wood brought about Trillian Capital Partners.
The company has been linked to numerous dodgy dealings, including illegally receiving almost R500-million from Eskom without a contract.
The company was mentioned in former public protector Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture report as one of the companies that paid money into the Gupta family's Bank of Baroda account. The money, believed to have flowed from dodgy tenders at Eskom and Transnet, was used in the purchase of Optimum Coal Mine...

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