Two suspended National Gambling Board directors quit

2015-01-25 15:00

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Some of the suspended directors at the National Gambling Board have resigned just weeks before a forensic report into their alleged misconduct was due to be handed to the department of trade and industry (the dti).

Vernon Naidoo, head of forensics at Grant Thornton, said the investigation was still ongoing. He believed it would be completed and delivered to the dti by the end of this month.

“The report is private and confidential, and belongs solely to the dti, which appointed Grant Thornton to conduct the investigation,” said Naidoo. “Grant Thornton is unable to comment on the findings in this report because it has been commissioned by the dti.”

City Press has learnt that board chairperson Linda de Vries and her deputy, Nana Magomola, have quit.

De Vries said that when interviewed by Grant Thornton investigators, she had provided documents disproving the allegations against her.

But she and Magomola quit because they had to carry all the costs of legal proceedings contesting their suspensions by themselves.

De Vries said they had also realised that the dti was set on pushing ahead its “agency rationalisation” project. “It was clear their intention was rationalisation,” she said, referring to the department’s plan to slash all top-heavy structures in subsidiary agencies and bring them under its direct control.

The allegations levelled at De Vries and other board members were contained in a letter by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies to Parliament stating his reasons for suspending them. These included the Auditor-General’s findings that they had breached public finance rules and served beyond the expiry of their terms. There was also a raft of allegations sent to Davies by a whistle-blower.

Matimba Macebele, another director, said he had not been interviewed. “It is news to me. Maybe they are still going to contact me?...?I don’t know.”

Macebele, an SA Revenue Service employee, said he had not resigned because he was nominated by the minister of finance to represent him on the board.

Bongani Lukhele, spokesperson for the dti, previously told City Press the Gambling Board’s mandate had to be revisited and the department had taken a decision to review the Gambling Act to change its mandate and to make it a trading entity of the department.

“It is not only the effectiveness of its governing structure, but its mandate is also problematic,” Lukhele said last month.

“The policy review is still under consultation and will be finalised in due course. The National Gambling Board was informed of this process.”

The Gambling Board’s directors had opposed the project.

De Vries said it was a smoke screen to give the department greater control over a national Central Electronic Monitoring System tender worth R8?billion, which expires in June.

Documents annexed to court papers in the case contesting the seven board members’ suspension, which was removed from the urgent roll, include email correspondence from administrators, who were appointed by Davies, seeking to fast-track the tender.

Commenting on the latest developments, Sidwell Medupe, spokesperson for the dti, said it obtained the board’s input on the revision of its mandate before the resignation of the directors. “This year legislative changes will be proposed to Parliament to make changes to [the board’s] mandate and its repositioning. The [board] is proceeding with its work, and the dti will make announcements on key issues when decisions are made.”

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