The Denel Asia saga, currently awaiting a North Gauteng High Court decision on its legality or not, has again been put into the limelight this time compliments of what has become known as #GuptaLeaks.
The hashtag covers emails purported to have been sent between members of the allegedly influential Gupta family and South African Cabinet Ministers, politicians, board members of State-owned enterprises (SOSs) and others in business and politics.
The digital publication Daily Maverick at the weekend said #GuptaLeaks show the Gupta family tried to sell Denel’s intellectual property to India, while watering down the state arms company’s sake by half; acting as middlemen the Guptas took the biggest stake for themselves and cut in a powerful Indian tycoon, said to be close to Prime Minister Narenda Modi.
“They primed, wined and dined Denel’s then new chairman, Dan Mantsha, who sent them confidential government documents,” according to AmaBhungane and Scorpio as reported by Daily Maverick.
“The Gupta family set themselves up to sell Denel’s weapons to India in a deal involving a shady Indian fixer and a powerful tycoon close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The Guptas arranged to side-line Denel and take the biggest share for themselves even though it was Denel’s proprietary technology that was to be sold,” the investigative journalism units write, adding these are revealed in #GuptaLeaks, “a trove of electronic data sourced from the heart of the Guptas’ business empire”.
According to the report Denel officials knew the over-riding purses of setting up Denel Asia was to sell arms to India, targeting more than $8 billion in deals on the sub-continent, via a second joint venture called Denel India.
The files, according AmaBhungane and Scorpio, contain emails and draft contracts showing that as Denel Asia was being established in Hong Kong, the Guptas were putting together a second-tier company in India called Denel India, in which their Indian brother-in-law (Anil Gupta) would hold a significant stake.
They also show the Guptas had a direct involvement in the establishment of Denel Asia, suggesting Salim Essa, said to be a known “Gupta lieutenant”, was little more than their proxy.
“Denel India was to be owned by Denel (25%) and Essa (24%) via Denel Asia, as well as Anil Gupta (18%) and the Indian multinational Adani Enterprises (33%).
“Thus, Denel’s participation was to be diluted significantly – and the emails show Denel executives were well aware the company would enjoy only a minority stake in the Indian venture,” Daily Maverick reports.
In addition to connecting Mantsha with the Guptas, the investigative reporters also allegedly found Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown was involved by “provisionally approving” Denel’s negotiations with VR Laser Asia to form Denel Asia.
Mantsha, it is also reported, was one of “a procession of influential figures in a pilgrimage to the Oberoi Hotel in Dubai and audience with the Guptas”. The Denel board chairman did not respond to questions about the purpose of the visit.
Denel said it had “been advised the Hawks (Directorate Priority Crime Investigation of the SA Police Service) are carrying out an investigation on the matters pertaining to the #GuptaLeaks emails. We would rather give space to the Hawks to undertake their investigations on all these matters fully before making any comments”.