Hawks target ICT powerbroker

2011-08-06 17:54

Phemelo Sehunelo – the power-broker behind the Imperial Crown Trading (ICT)-led consortium that could turn a number of partners, including Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, into multimillionaires – has reason to sweat.

City Press has obtained a copy of the search warrant for ICT’s premises that was issued to the Hawks in Kimberley a week ago.

The warrant provides detailed insight into the direction of the state’s forgery, uttering and corruption investigation. It is clear that Sehunelo is in the crosshairs of investigators.

At the heart of the case are claims by Sishen Iron Ore Company that ICT forged parts of a prospecting rights application that saw it controversially gain control of rights that Sishen once controlled.

Sishen’s holding company, ArcelorMittal, subsequently offered the ICT-led consortium (which includes Duduzane Zuma and others) a multibillion-rand BEE deal seen by many as an attempt to buy back control of the lost prospecting rights.

Sishen has brought civil proceedings to have the rights award set aside and has laid criminal charges.

In terms of the warrant, the Hawks got permission to seize the following from Sehunelo:
» All petrol and garage card slips or records for the period April 30 to May 11 2009;

» His cellphone, for the purpose of downloading the information it contained;

» Correspondence with any party relating to an application by ICT for prospecting rights over the Sishen properties at any time, but in particular during the period April 29 to May 11 2009; and

» Correspondence with any party relating to the conducting of prospecting over Sishen assets in the ICT application submitted on May 4 2009.

Sehunelo’s legal team has been working on an urgent application to have the warrant set aside, but obtained a written guarantee from the Office for Serious Economic Offences this week for the contents of evidence seized in terms of the warrant to be sealed and held at “forensic laboratories”.

ICT legal counsel Ronnie Mendelow said they had been assured the evidence would not be opened “until we are through with this argument in the North Gauteng High Court the week after next”.

However, they still plan to go to court to set aside the warrant next week because they regard it as unlawful.

The warrant shows that the Hawks suspect parts of the May 4 2009 application may have contained “unlawfully obtained information and copies of title deeds ... which had been unlawfully obtained and copied from a mining right application earlier filed by Sishen Iron Ore”.

The Hawks were also interested in a number of politically connected business associates and mineral resources department officials with whom Sehunelo may have interacted, specifically between April 29 and May 15 2009.
 
The list of people of interest on the warrant includes Jagdish Parekh, who became a 50% ICT shareholder 10 months after the disputed right had been awarded.
 
Parek’s inclusion suggests that investigators suspect a broader conspiracy at the time of the disputed application.

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela would not comment, saying the Hawks had wanted to do their investigations “quietly, even the search and seizures were not meant to be out in the media”.

Sehunelo declined to comment.


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