Masotsha Mngadi, previously described by a colleague as former SAA chair Dudu Myeni's "person" or "adviser" at the airline, was intimately involved in a 2016 tender that stood to pay out R256m in fees, the state capture inquiry has heard.
The inquiry is investigating allegations of fraud and corruption at state firms.
Daniel Mahlangu, the head and sole director of financial advisory firm BnP Capital, was testifying before the commission for the first time on Thursday. He told the commission that he "never met anybody at SAA" in person, despite his company winning a joint 2016 tender to advise the airline on a long-term debt funding project and later being asked to source R15bn in funds.
He said all his interactions with the national flag carrier were via correspondence, written by his business partner Mngadi. He or his team would check Mngadi's letters for accuracy before they were sent off. He said Mngadi would meet with SAA in person.
The inquiry previously heard from suspended SAA CFO, Phumeza Nhantsi, that Myeni gave her Mngadi's contact details shortly after she started work at SAA in 2015, saying he knew a lot about the airline. Nhantsi said Mngadi would sometime review SAA documents.
Mngadi has not testified at the inquiry. It is not known if he will be summoned to give evidence or ask to cross-examine witnesses.
A senior employee of Nedbank at the time, Mngadi claimed to be the owner of a company called In Line Trading 10. He was suspended by Nedbank in July 2016.
Mahlangu told the commission that he was introduced to Mngadi by a colleague in early 2016, and the two met at a hotel to talk about a tender. He said that, at the meeting, Mngadi explained that he had extensive knowledge of the airline industry and SAA was one of his clients.
Quizzed by evidence leader advocate Kate Hofmeyr and the commission's chair, Justice Raymond Zondo, on what steps he took to verify these claims, Mahlangu acknowledged he did not ask Mngadi what he did, how he knew about the airline industry or what his relationship with SAA was.
Following the meeting at the hotel, BnP Capital and Inline Trading 10 decided to bid jointly for a tender to advise the flag carrier around a long-term debt funding project.
Fin24 has a copy of the bid document, which describes the two firms as "partners'. Mngadi asked that his name not be included in the documents.
Mahlangu said he did not know why Inline Trading 10 did not have any financial documents that could be added to the bid pack, despite being described in the joint bid document as having 10 years of expertise.
The commission previously heard that BnP won the bid to be a transaction adviser to the flag carrier on March 20, beating out a number of banks, including Nedbank. On May 25, SAA named it to source R15bn in funding without going to tender. BnP stood to make R256m in fees.
The contract was eventually cancelled on July 21, 2016, after law firm Webber Wentzel threatened to take SAA to court, based on documents leaked by a whisteblower. BnP Capital's license to operate as a financial services provider had at the time been suspended.
Myeni was replaced as SAA's chairperson in October 2017. Former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi previously told the commission that Myeni was paid R300 000 monthly by Bosasa. Myeni has denied the allegations, telling eNCA nobody could "test her with money".
* Correction: A previous version of the article stated that Fin24 could not find reference to a company with the name Inline Trading 10 in the database of Companies and Intellectual Property Commission. The company's name is In Line Trading 10 and records to appear in the CIPC database.