Zuma’s lawyer faces complaint over Aurora involvement

2015-02-08 06:00

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A complaint of perjury will tomorrow be laid against President Jacob Zuma’s lawyer Michael Hulley.

The complaint relates to Hulley’s involvement in Aurora Empowerment Systems, the mining company run by the president’s nephew Khulubuse Zuma and Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zondwa Mandela.

Hulley was called to testify before a commission of inquiry in 2011 where he claimed that, although he had been approached to act as a nonexecutive director of Aurora, he was never appointed and merely assisted Aurora in an advisory capacity.

The day after his testimony, Zuma announced Hulley’s appointment as the presidency’s legal adviser.

Here’s a look at Hulley’s testimony before the commission of inquiry.

This is an exchange between Advocate Adrian Kruger for the liquidators and Hulley:

Kruger: When you read this document, did you ever pick up the phone and phoned the Liquidators and say, “Guys, I am not a non-executive director”?

Hulley: No, no, I hadn’t.

Kruger: Why did you not do that?

Hulley: I hadn’t because I understood this to be a bid document to ... to set out who the intended parties were that were going to consummate the transaction.

At the inquiry the liquidators also questioned why Hulley had allowed Aurora to keep listing him as a director of their letterheads. Hulley said he told Aurora management to change the letterhead but didn’t tell the liquidators.

Hulley: There were subsequent letters that were sent on an Aurora letterhead that reflected both myself and [Malayisan investor Dato] Shah as directors and I pointed that out, saying that it was incorrect.

Gibbs: To whom did you point this out?

Hulley: I pointed it out to the management [of Aurora].

Gibbs: But not to the Liquidators?

Hulley: No.

Kruger: You see the Liquidators at all times, amongst other people, I may add have always been under the impression that you are a director.

Hulley: Well, you know I can easily see why and that would ... I wouldn’t draw so much to the bid document, but I would by the fact that it is represented at the foot of the page.

Hulley said he asked Aurora consultant Fazel Bhana to correct the letterheads, but thought that by sending out emails under his own name and from his own email address any misconception would be cleared up.

Gibbs: You now speak to Mister Bhana and tell him, “Correct your letterhead”, but you don’t go to those to whom the letters were addressed to say, “Listen, the true story is this” or “The truth is the following”, am I correct?

Hulley: When I interacted with the Liquidators or any other party concerned with the transaction, I sent the letter from my e-mail under my own name and my normal signatory.

Gibbs: I’m asking myself whether there was not a legal duty on you to set the record straight? Not just writing letters in your own name, but going to the Liquidators and to all people to whom it was conveyed that you were a director to tell them this is not the truth.

Hulley: I deemed it proper on my part to address those persons who were making the representation that I was a director. By addressing that matter with them, I deemed that to be sufficient and appropriate.

During the inquiry, the directors seemed equally unsure of Hulley’s role. During Khulubuse Zuma’s first appearance he said Hulley was doing the work of a director but as never officially appointed.

Kruger: Was Mister Hulley ever a Director?

Zuma: For me the work I think that we are delegating him to do almost... though we asked him to come in on an advisory capacity, but there was some work that he was doing as a Director, but we never anointed him as a Director. We never made him a Director, but the work that he was doing, some people may have a perception that he was a Director.

However, in a letter read out during Zuma’s final appearance in January 2012, he clarified his position.

Putter (reading Zuma’s letter): “Whether Mister Michael Hulley was a Director of Aurora?” and the answer is: “Although I indicated early in the Enquiry that Mister Hulley was a non-executive Director, this was factually incorrect. Mister Hulley was apparently never a Director of Aurora.

During the inquiry, Zondwa Mandela and Thulani Ngubane maintained that Hulley was a director.

Kruger: Who are your fellow directors?

Mandela: My fellow directors are Thulani Ngubane, Khulubuse Zuma and Michael Hulley. The status on myself is a director, Khulu - director, Thulani - director, Michael - non-exec director.

Kruger: Is Mister Hulley, did Mister Hulley accept an appointment as a director?

Mandela: Yes, he did.

Kruger: Aurora Empowerment Systems had numerous Directors, inter alia Mister Zuma and Mister Mandela?

Ngubane: Yes.

Kruger: Were there any other Directors?

Ngubane: Mister Hulley was also a Director, a non-executive Director. But this is a common knowledge because I mean everywhere it appears on a paper that Mister Hulley has been a Non-executive Director for Aurora Empowerment Systems.

A complaint of perjury will tomorrow be laid against President Jacob Zuma’s lawyer Michael Hulley.

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