The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is facing a multimillion rand lawsuit related to a dodgy R1bn Mozambican oil deal facilitated and authorised by the public investment entity’s chief executive officer Dr Dan Matjila. Weekly Xposé previously reported how Matjila played a leading role in a murky and possibly fraudulent investment deal to the tune of more than R1bn in a dilapidated Mozambican oil refinery plant that is not operational, years after a massive cash injection from the PIC.
Weekly Xposé can today reveal that the businessman into whose company the PIC invested about R1.1bn is a suspected underworld character who is in custody following his arrest by Mozambican authorities last month. Momade Rassul, owner of S&S Oil Refinery based in Nacala in Northern Province of Mozambique was arrested on 29 June and is currently in custody facing an assortment of serious charges including money laundering, illicit enrichment, tax fraud, foreign currency manipulation, smuggling and misappropriation.
Click here for the press release: Mozambique Prosecuting Authority release
Click here for an English translation of the press release: Portuguese-English translation
Matjila, who allegedly has close ties with Rassul, has previously admitted that the PIC, invested about $63m (about R825m) into Rassul’s company. However new details have started to emerge of how the PIC pumped more than R1bn in various amounts into Rassul’s non-operational oil refinery. Impeccable sources have revealed that the PIC paid an amount of $35m (term debt). This was followed by another payment of $28m (equity). It is believed the PIC then advanced $10m to increase its shareholding in S&S Oil Refinery to 70%. Another $10m (guarantee facility) was advanced to S&S, apparently to obtain raw material from Indonesia, bringing to $83m (about R1.1bn) the total amount Rassul pocketed from the PIC.
While Matjila previously revealed that the PIC had paid a facilitation fee to a company called Indiafrec Trade & Investment (Pty) Ltd, whose directors are listed as Indian-born Ameer Mirza and Siyabonga Nene, whose father Nhlanhla Nene was finance minister when the PIC made the investment, Weekly Xposé can reveal that Mirza’s lawyers, Barry Aaron and Associates, have sent Matjila a letter of demand dated 12 July 2017.
Click here for the letter of demand: Lawyer’s Letter
The letter contains explosive details of how Matjila manipulated the deal in favour of Rassul and to the disadvantage of Mirza, who introduced Matjila to Rassul.
“This conduct as well as the project in its entirety, including the computation of the amount of $48m which the PIC agreed to pay Rassul and the modification of the original transaction structure, the distribution of the proceeds in terms thereof and the entire circumstances pursuant to which all of this occurred ought also to be subject to forensic investigation and our client intends taking steps to facilitate this and provide the forensic investigators with the necessary background, documentation and information in regard to” said Mirza’s lawyers.
In his letter of demand, Mirza details how at a meeting attended by among others himself, Matjila, PIC official Roy Rajdhar, Rassul and his wife at the Protea Fire & Ice Hotel in Centurion opposite PIC offices, Matjila with the assistance of Rajdhar manipulated the negotiations regarding Mirza’s settlement amount and persuaded him to reduce his initially agreed and negotiated settlement of $10m (about R131m) to $3.3m (R43.2m). Of this amount the PIC only paid Mirza $449 184 (about R5.9m). It is the outstanding balance of $2 850 816 (about R37.3m) that Mirza’s lawyers have given Matjila to settle within seven days, a deadline which has since expired.
Weekly Xposé can reveal that Mirza’s lawyers are planning to approach the Johannesburg High Court to force the PIC to pay what they insist is due to their client. This was revealed by Barry Aaron in his response to questions emailed to his law firm by Weekly Xposé. In his response Barry Aaron said: “You seem to have the facts of the matter at your disposal but I categorically state that neither my client nor my firm leaked the issue to the press. In circumstances my client consequently sees no harm by confirming that Barry Aaron & Associates is indeed mandated to represent a company under the control of Mr Mirza relating to the S&S Oil Refinery in Mozambique and which correctly previously reported was a transaction introduced by my client to the PIC and Mr Rassul.”
Added Aaron: “My client was supposed to dissipate in the equity of the refinery but subsequently entered into a settlement agreement with Rassul. Only about 5% of the settlement amount has been paid. A letter of demand was dispatched to Mr Rassul, as well as to the PIC, regarding payment of the shortfall of $2 850 816, with the indication that my client would either enforce payment or cancel the settlement agreement and claim entitlement to the equity in the refinery project in terms of the provisions of the settlement agreement.
“The settlement amount has not been paid in the time allowed letter of demand and legal steps are about to be instituted and attorneys in Maputo engaged to pursue my client’s rights in Mozambique in conjunction with the steps I will be taking the High Court of South Africa on behalf of my client. PIC and Mr Rassul have been notified accordingly,” Aaron concluded.
Weekly Xposé sent detailed questions to Matjila on Tuesday 18 July. Matjila who has on all previous occasions responded to Weekly Xposé’s questions within the requested deadline, failed to respond. Questions were again sent to him on Wednesday 19 July. Again Matjila failed to respond. Weekly Xposé again emailed questions to Matjila and copied his spokesman Sekgoela Sekgoela on Monday 24 July. Again, these were met with silence from the PIC boss and his spokesman.