Nenegate saga: Trillian Capital denies links to Guptas

Johannesburg - Financial consulting group Trillian Capital Partners has hit back at a report about the company allegedly being privy to the axing of former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene weeks before it happened.

The Sunday Times reported that an affidavit given to former public protector Thuli Madonsela by an anonymous ‘whistleblower’, who used to be a former CEO of a business unit at Johannesburg-headquartered Trillian Capital Partners, contains the allegation.

“26th October 2015, I was informed by my direct line manager, Eric Wood at Regiments Capital that the President of the Republic of South Africa was going to replace Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene,” the whistleblower reportedly wrote in her affidavit, according to the Sunday Times report.

The whistleblower further reportedly said in the affidavit that on December 9 2015, Wood told her that her former colleague Mohammed Bobat would be appointed special adviser to Nene's replacement Des van Rooyen. Amid a market backlash, the ANC pressurised President Jacob Zuma to replace Van Rooyen with Pravin Gordhan.

Meanwhile, Bobat was a principal at Regiments Capital in the management consulting division and reported directly to Wood, according to the whistleblower.

Bobat was then expected to “channel all tenders from National Treasury and state-owned companies” to a team of experts that would include expertise from Trillian Capital, the whistleblower said.

Bobat, though, denied the whistleblower’s claims. Wood, who is now CEO of Trillian Capital Partners, also denied all allegations by the whistleblower and described her as a “disaffected employee” and fraudster who has stolen confidential company information.

Trillian Capital denies Gupta links

The Sunday Times reported that Trillian Capital Partners has links to the controversial Gupta family.

The likes of the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism also reported in August this year that Trillian Capital Partners, which forms part of the Trillian group, is 60% held by Trillian Holdings while its sole director Salim Essa, is said to be a close Gupta associate.

But in a statement on Sunday, Trillian Capital denied it was linked to the Guptas.

“The Gupta family has no shareholding or other interest whatsoever in Trillian Holdings,” said the company.

“It [the Gupta family] has no link to Trillian Holdings or to any of the other constituent members of the Trillian group of companies,” Trillian added.

The company, as part of its statement, further challenged the veracity of the Sunday Times report.

“The insinuations and claims that Trillian Capital Partners and its chief executive officer, Dr Eric Wood, are somehow party to the activity that has recently enjoyed many print columns and has been styled ‘state capture’ are quite simply untrue,” said Trillian in its statement.

'Wild and unsubstantiated allegations'

“Those wild and unsubstantiated allegations have extremely damaging repercussions for the reputation of an emerging and growing black-owned Financial Services Group and to that of Dr Wood,” added the company.

The company also hit back at the whistleblower - whom it named in its statement - and accused the whistleblower of being a “disgruntled former employee”.

While Trillian Capital hit back at the Sunday Times report in its statement, the company didn’t directly respond to claims over alleged deals with SA Express and Transnet in the report.

The Sunday Times reported that the whistleblower said that Trillian won a R5m deal for a capital raising transaction for SA Express that allegedly never went through.

Meanwhile, the company also stands accused of invoicing Transnet R10m for work that “could not have taken place”, according to the report.

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