NPA targets Tegeta shares in Optimum Coal Mine in bid to claw back R3.4bn in state capture proceeds

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Optimum Coal Mine in Mpumalanga is under busisness rescue
Optimum Coal Mine in Mpumalanga is under busisness rescue
Bloomberg
  • In March, the Gauteng High Court granted a preservation order allowing the attachment of Tegeta's shares in Optimum Coal Mine (OCM) and Optimum Coal Terminal (OCT).
  • The preservation order includes OCM's businesses. 
  • On Friday, the National Prosecuting Authority lodged another application, this time for the shares Tegeta owns in OCM and OCT to be forfeited to the State.



The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has applied to the Gauteng High Court to have shares valued at more than R3.4 billion, owned by the notorious Gupta family's Tegeta Exploration & Resources, forfeited to the State.

"The application seeks to have the shares…forfeited to the State on grounds of having been acquired through the proceeds of unlawful activities and the instrumentality of money laundering under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act," the NPA said in a statement. 

The application, which was lodged in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Friday, follows a preservation order that the court granted in March for the attachment of all of Tegeta's shares in Optimum Coal Mine (OCM) and Optimum Coal Terminal (OCT).

The preservation order included OCM's businesses. 

READOptimum business rescue was not a gambit to squeeze Eskom, Zondo hears

The court also made a second decision on a claim of R1.3 billion from Templar Capital, a Bermuda-registered company.  The preservation claim against Templar stemmed from an advance from Griffin Line Trading, a company nominally headed by Ajay Gupta's son, Kamal Singhala.

"Daniel McGowan, the owner of Templar, has himself stated under oath that the funds advanced by Griffin Line [were] derived from money stolen from the South African government and laundered via Mr Singhala on behalf of his father and wider family members," the NPA said.

Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Ouma Rabaji-Rasethaba, who is responsible for asset forfeiture, explained that the application was one of the NPA's moves to claw back the proceeds of state capture as per the recommendations of the Zondo Commission's report. 

In a founding affidavit filed at the High Court, Rabaji-Rasethaba included a wide range of respondents, such as OCM, OCT, their business rescue practitioners, curators, Tegeta, the National Union of Mineworkers, Templar, Liberty Coal – which has made an acquisition offer for Optimum and creditors who have made claims against OCM and OCT. 

Creditors were included due to an application for an order invalidating OCM and OCT's business rescue plans, in which it is alleged that the plans' implementation was a violation of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

READ | Supreme Court rejects Gupta firm bid to remove Tegeta business rescue practitioners

However, Rabaji-Rasethaba said the court's order was subject to "legitimate" claims from creditors and business rescue practitioners.

The protected claims exclude shareholder loans made to OCM and claims from creditors which the Guptas, Salim Essa and McGowan are known to have an interest in.

Essa is a Gupta associate who has been identified as one of the people involved in state capture. He, along with three of the Gupta brothers, has been sanctioned by the US Treasury.

Rabaji-Rasethaba added that parties related to the Guptas and Essa "distorted" the current business rescue plan, which is another reason the plan should be declared invalid.

A new "lawful" business rescue plan that hasn't been "tainted" by the claims of the related parties and Centaur Ventures Limited (CVL), can be implemented once the unlawful claims are removed. CVL is linked to McGowan.

If new plans are not put in place, the curator can sell OCM's businesses, together with its shares and those of OCT and pay the funds into the Criminal Assets Recovery Account, she said.

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