OUTA guns for Denel chair in fresh legal bid

A Denel aeroplane.
A Denel aeroplane.

Cape Town - A spokesperson for Denel said on Friday the state-owned defence company was not yet in a position to comment on complaints of fraud and corruption lodged against its chairperson by The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA).

OUTA's chief operating officer Ben Theron on Wednesday submitted a 35-page affidavit and over 100 pages of supporting documents to police at Brooklyn police station in Pretoria.

Theron said the documents detail Denel chairperson Dan Mantsha's involvement in state capture and his alleged close relationship with the Gupta family. 

In his affidavit, Theron alleges that Mantsha “abused his position as Denel’s Chairperson and/or non executive director to benefit the likes of the Gupta family.”

The complaint states that Mantsha is in breach of sections of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act and the Public Finance Management Act. 

A spokesperson for Denel said it was not aware of the complaint, and asked for more time to study the affidavit and supporting documents before replying. 

The Department of Public Enterprises did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

OUTA’s complaint is based, in part, on documents from the #GuptaLeaks, which it said it gained access to in May 2017. 

Theron states that Mantsha played a key role in facilitating the controversial joint venture between Denel and Guptas’ business VR Laser, known as Denel Asia. 

The joint venture was supposed to give Denel a foothold in the growing Asian defence market. 

Denel officially exited the joint venture last month, saying it had become the “focus of negative attention from the media to the detriment of the Denel brand, both locally and internationally.”

“Since its establishment, Denel Asia has not traded due to differences of opinion with National Treasury, which have been widely covered in the media, at times based on perceptions and not fact,” Denel said in a statement.  

It reiterated that the venture was above board. 

“It is our view that this business case was done in compliance with all legislative governance processes. The business case that was submitted in 2015 to both departments – i.e. Public Enterprises and National Treasury - remains valid and relevant.”

In his affidavit, however, Theron alleged that Mantsha was acting for both Denel and VR Laser when the joint venture was being drawn up, due to his close relationship with the Guptas. 

“The dealings that ensued between Denel and various Gupta entities can be measuredly attributed to Mantsha’s sinister relationship with the Gupta family,” stated Theron.  

According to Theron, emails from the GuptaLeaks show that Mantsha was flown to India and Dubai in 2015, and again to Dubai in 2016 as a guest of the Guptas. 

A supporting document to his affidavit also includes a copy of a municipal account that Mantsha seemingly forwarded to the Guptas to pay in June 2015. 

The bill for R14 238, in the name of “Mantsha LD”, was forwarded to Gupta associate Ashu Chawla. Chawla’s response, if any, is not included in the supporting document pack. 

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