The freezing of assets in the controversial Estina Dairy project, Gupta-linked Trillian and global consulting firm McKinsey and assets belonging to Uruguayan national Gaston Savoi has taken another twist.
In a latest turn of events, the internal investigation by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has uncovered serious irregularities, prompting the suspension of Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, Advocate Knorx Molelle.
On Tuesday, Molelle was served with a letter of suspension with immediate effect pending a thorough investigation into his alleged involvement in the awarding of curatorship contracts to preserve the multi-million rand assets.
The letter, dated November 5, was signed by Justice Minister Ronald Lamola.
The minister wrote: “I have been informed by th leadership of the NPA of alleged misconduct committed by you. These allegations of acts of misconduct relate to the irregularities relating to the appointment and payment of the curators in the McKinsey, Estina and Intaka matters.”
Lamola said he viewed these allegations in a serious light given their gravity and possible impact on the NPA’s reputation.
“I have therefore accepted the recommendation that you should be placed on precautionary suspension and an investigation be carried out to test the veracity of the allegations of acts of misconduct against you.”
Molelle is suspended on full pay.
City Press has learnt that the internal investigation was prompted by a whistle-blower’s complaint which suggested that there was no need to place Mckisey’s bank accounts and assets under curatorship as the company had offered to pay back the money.
“The placement under curatorship meant that the state suffered losses as a result of curatorship costs which were unnecessary in the situation when the company had offered to repay the money unduly received,” said a source privy to the initial complaint by the whistle-blower.
However, another source said McKinsey had been making promises to repay the money but never did when asked to.
“The allegations are absurd to say the least! Molelle does not appoint and pay curators. No one in the NPA has such powers for that matter. Curators are appointed by the courts and are accountable to the Master of the High Court and not anyone in the NPA.
“Their fees are also approved by the Master of the High Court,” said a source close to the Molelle, the former acting special director who shot to fame when he and his team seized the Gupta assets.
In the Estina matter, the NPA froze R250 million worth of assets belonging to the controversial Gupta family for their alleged role in the failed dairy project.
The assets included 43 residential‚ farm and business properties‚ two aircraft‚ a helicopter‚ cars including a Porsche‚ Lamborghini‚ Range Rovers and bank accounts belonging to Oakbay Investments and Sahara Computers.
In the McKinsey matter the Asset forfeiture Unit recovered R1.2 billion which was paid back to Eskom.
The NPA froze $100 000 (R15.3 million) in a Swiss bank account belonging to Savoi and R805 569.39 held by another man on his behalf.
At least R4 million, which would be received for the sale of Intaka Nutri, was also frozen.
The NPA also attached four properties in Tokai. The move followed allegations of tender fraud, corruption and money laundering against the businessperson, 14 other people and four companies.
The allegations are that Intaka supplied water purification and oxygen plants to hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal at inflated prices.
This is a developing story.