Gayton McKenzie guns for Gold Fields

2013-09-15 14:00

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Former gangster to sue mining house following debacle which he says ruined his ‘good name’

Convicted gangster turned businessman Gayton McKenzie plans to sue mining giant Gold Fields and Agang SA president Mamphela Ramphele because, he says, their black economic empowerment (BEE) deal destroyed his business and ruined his “good name”.

McKenzie has lifted the lid on his involvement in the controversial Gold Fields BEE deal that allegedly allocated R25 million in shares to ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete.

McKenzie has challenged both Ramphele – who was Gold Fields’ chairperson at the time – and the company’s CEO, Nick Holland, to come clean about their roles in the setting up of an empowerment consortium valued at R2.1 billion.

McKenzie and his mining consultancy were hired in 2010 by Gold Fields, the world’s fourth-largest gold producer, to find and identify empowerment partners for a 9% stake in its South Deep mine.

McKenzie – a convicted former bank robber – broke his silence this week, saying he was sick and tired of being considered the rotten apple in the deal. “Gold Fields hired me to put the BEE deal together and I did so to their complete satisfaction. Holland and I became friends, and he was very happy with what I did.”

He lashed out at Ramphele, challenging her to reveal her true role in the BEE deal. He said he had personally spoken to her at the time and she was satisfied with his work. “Now suddenly it’s all rotten and they were under pressure to do this or to do that. Why didn’t they say anything to me at the time? Why did we have parties to celebrate the deal?”

The Mail & Guardian has reported that Gold Fields commissioned New York law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to investigate the deal. The paper reported the share allocated to Mbete could constitute bribery.

Gold Fields now faces a criminal investigation in the US, where the company is listed. Gold Fields has attempted to bury the investigation, but reportedly admitted the implementation of the transaction did not meet its own standards.

Mbete has denied any impropriety and the ANC has demanded an apology from the Mail & Guardian.

Ramphele said in a previous interview with Business Day that Gold Fields came under government pressure to include specific shareholders in the deal.

McKenzie said he and his firm were initially hired by Gold Fields to convert a mining licence, which they did within six months.

He said because of this “sterling” performance, Holland asked McKenzie’s company to put the BEE deal together. McKenzie says Kenny Kunene played no role, while one of President Jacob Zuma’s former advocates, Jerome Brauns, worked for him as a legal consultant.

Brauns allegedly told Paul, Weiss investigators Gold Fields increased Mbete’s stake because she threatened – through her representative – to “scupper” the entire transaction. Brauns now denies having said this.

“Brauns worked for me and never told me anything,” said McKenzie.

He said Mbete was brought into the deal by Holland, and he and Ramphele seemed “very happy” with the ANC leader’s involvement.

“When my name emerged, fingers were pointed at me. It destroyed my company and I had to close it down because of the negative publicity.”

City Press put McKenzie’s allegations to both Holland and Ramphele. Ramphele said she had “nothing more to add” about her tenure as Gold Fields chairperson. She said she had cut all ties with business and “will not be drawn back into a life” she had left.

Gold Fields’ vice-president for corporate affairs said the company would not comment.

Brauns could not be reached for comment.

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