Jay Singh’s dodgy mining links

2013-11-26 00:00

JAY Singh — the man behind both the Tongaat mall collapse and Durban’s massive sub-standard housing scandal — is a business partner of alleged “master fraudster” Kobus Boshoff.

And the duo’s R115 million mining deal has also collapsed into chaos, after a “band of vigilantes” stormed the illegal mine they tried to start in the Northern Cape, according to court papers.

Boshoff (56) — who has been repeatedly arrested and charged with fraud, but is yet to face trial — is the focus of 19 separate fraud investigations, including a massive Land Bank scam, in which bogus letters of guarantee were used to con victims out of millions in fake black economic empowerment deals.

His alleged frauds against individuals total over R40 million, with high-profile victims including former KwaZulu-Natal tourism boss Seshi Chonco.

Democratic Alliance MPs are among those who have written to the Police Department demanding urgent prosecution of Boshoff, and an investigation into alleged corruption within the SAPS in shielding him.

The Witness has established that Singh’s son, Ravi Jagadasan, and Boshoff’s daughter, Bianca Boshoff, are co-directors in JSBJ Mining, trading as Gralio Mining.

However, Bianca Boshoff, who said she was “no longer involved”, and that her father ran the company, confirmed to The Witness that Singh was her father’s investment partner. She said: “I only met Jay Singh once on the deal; I met Ravi twice”.

Although they are listed in the names of family members, Jay Singh, an ANC donor, controls the Gralio group of companies, including Gralio Precast, Gralio Construction, Woodglaze and Rectangle Investments, whose illegal construction led to the mall tragedy that killed two and injured 29 last week.

Singh pleaded guilty to a charge of corruption in 1996, but has since amassed a construction empire that includes R686 million in eThekwini housing contracts.

Chad Thomas, an investigator with IRS Forensic Investigations, told The Witness he flew from Johannesburg to meet with Singh and his attorney at their offices earlier this year, “to assist Singh recover losses” after the mine deal went sour, and Singh and Boshoff had “fallen out”.

Thomas said Singh and Boshoff formed JSBJ Mining to exploit iron ore at a farm called Kapstewel near Kathu, north of Kimberley, even though Singh “has no knowledge of mining”, and Boshoff “had no rights to mine there”.

On May 8, Thomas travelled to the farm and found “between R30 and R50 million worth of yellow equipment” belonging to Singh’s companies, including rock crushers, earthmoving machinery, and three bakkies with KZN registrations. He said Singh confirmed the equipment was his.

Thomas said the equipment was “being guarded by security officers also in the employ of Kobus Boshoff”, but that work had been halted through court interdict because JSBJ Mining had no licence.

Thomas said Singh claimed he had provided “R100 million worth” of equipment to the project, but said the true value was likely much less.

“Singh told me he had also given R10 million in cash to Boshoff to secure the mining rights, and another R5 million in operations costs, but that the R10 million was never passed on to secure the licence,” said Thomas.

“He told me he was introduced to Boshoff via a mutual friend. I told him this was a strange thing for a friend to do, as Boshoff is a very well known [alleged] fraudster, but [Singh] would not disclose that friend’s name. I encouraged him to lay criminal charges against Boshoff, but he and his attorney weren’t interested, which I also found strange, given the amount of money he claimed he’d lost in the venture.”

IRS has worked with the Public Protector on major land claims cases, as well as with the Hawks and the City of Johannesburg on the illegal sale of state-owned land, among other high-profile investigations.

Willie Uys, owner of a nearby farm in Kathu, said: “The gates at Kapstewel are closed nowadays; there have been all kinds of legal challenges there.”

According to papers filed at the Northern Cape High Court, the true owners of the mining licence, including Autumn Skies Trading and Big Mach Trading, sought an interdict to stop Boshoff conducting the “full-scale mining operation”.

In an affidavit, investigator Danie van Wyk described a dramatic mine hijack scene at the farm on May 17, in which “a vigilante band of we assume Nigerians stormed the premises and with force took control over the property”.

Van Wyk stated that the invaders claimed “they were acting on instructions of [Boshoff]”.

Thomas said “it is possible” that Singh was duped in the deal and lost millions: “With the iron ore concessions suddenly becoming available in that area, a number of people are launching illicit ventures claiming they are ‘in the process’ of getting mining rights, and people are investing with them.”

But, Thomas said, “there is much more to this deal than meets the eye”.

Boshoff did not respond to questions both sent directly, and via his daughter.

Singh’s spokesperson, Melanie Moodley, did not respond to the questions, but complained that Singh’s past remarks to media were “often quoted out of context”.

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