Riaz Saloojee, first suspended and then ousted chief executive of State-owned defence industry conglomerate Denel, has reportedly been offered – and taken – a golden handshake.
His lawyer, Shaheed Dollie, told Johannesburg daily The Times that Saloojee signed a settlement agreement with his former employer but would not say how much he was paid.
In April the Denel board of directors, appointed by Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown in September 2015, broke its silence over issues ranging from the suspension of Saloojee and two other senior officials, the establishment of the Denel Asia joint venture in Hong Kong and a steel cutting and fabrication contract with VR Laser, a Gupta linked company.
Denel chairman Daniel Mantsha said in the statement Saloojee would not be returning because “his contractual obligation to Denel was terminated as his contract was about to expire”.
According to The Times, Saloojee’s suspension was because he caused a cash crunch for Denel by shortening the terms of a R455 million bank loan used to acquire BAE Systems Land Systems SA (LSSA). The former chief executive is reported to have said it was a trumped-up charge so he would make way for a deal with the Zuma connected Gupta family, one he would not have approved. No details are given but this could relate to either the Denel Asia Hong Kong joint venture or the contract with VR Laser to cut and fabricate components for the SA Army’s new infantry fighting vehicle, the Badger.
As far as the supposed loan to finance the Land Systems acquisition is concerned, Saloojee is reported as saying it was intended as bridging finance until an equity partner was found, but the deal was cancelled by the Denel board.
At the time of publication there was no word from Minister Brown’s office as to whether she had received a copy of an investigation by the Denel board into the suspension of Saloojee, chief financial officer Fikile Mhlontlo and group company secretary Elizabeth Africa. Indications were the report would be completed and handed to the Minister by June this year, more than six months later than was originally stipulated.
At the time of publishing Denel had not responded to an enquiry on the Saloojee “golden handshake”.