Public watchdog OUTA (Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse) has laid corruption charges against Denel board chairman, Daniel Mantsha.
In an affidavit and information to support the charges, OUTA chief operating officer Ben Theron alleges Mantsha “abused his position as Denel chairperson and/or non-executive director to benefit the Guptas”.
The charges were laid in the week following the release of the state-owned defence and technology conglomerate’s financial results which showed an order book valued at R18 billion, down from the previous financial year’s R30 billion.
“As soon as Dan Mantsha was appointed as chairman of the state-owned defence industry Denel, he took favours from the Guptas and joined them in trying to set up a business deal that would give them access to Denel’s business. His relationship with the Guptas was unethical, irregular and illegal,” is part of the explanation given on the OUTA website for the visit to Pretoria’s Brooklyn Police Station where the charges were formalised in what Theron said would be followed up “to encourage prosecution”.
OUTA, originally formed to protest electronic tolling on large parts of the Gauteng freeway system, has now taken up cudgels on behalf of South Africans concerned with issues including state capture and corruption.
“Mantsha abused his position as Denel chairman to benefit the Guptas. He handed over confidential state information to give them a competitive advantage and while serving as Denel chairman, took favours from them like free trips to India and Dubai and asked for his outstanding municipal bill to be paid,” according to OUTA.
According to News24, Denel said it was not aware of charges being laid and asked for time to study the affidavit and supporting documentation before replying. The affidavit reportedly runs to 35 pages and more than 100 pages of supporting documentation accompanied it when charges were laid at the police station in Pretoria’s near eastern suburbs.
In June, the digital publication Daily Maverick reported #Guptaleaks show the Gupta family attempted to sell Denel’s intellectual property to India while watering down the state-owned arms company’s stake by half. Acting as middlemen, the Guptas, according to Daily Maverick, took the biggest stake for themselves and cut in an 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,” the digital publication reported.
Denel at its financial results presentation also announced it was withdrawing from the Denel Asia joint venture, which has been mired in controversy and had been a matter before the North Gauteng High Court. The joint venture would have seen Denel partner with a known Gupta associate VR Laser to open an office in Hong Kong from where it would explore business opportunities in the Asia/Pacific region.
Denel acting chief executive Zwelakhe Ntshepe said the joint venture “became the focus of negative attention from the media to the detriment of the Denel brand, both locally and internationally”.
“Denel SOC ended its involvement in the Denel Asia joint venture. We have exited the joint venture,” he said.