Gupta-Linked businessman Eric Wood granted permission to travel to UK for festive season

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Businessman Eric Wood appears at the Palm Ridge Specialised Crimes Court on October 14, 2022.
Businessman Eric Wood appears at the Palm Ridge Specialised Crimes Court on October 14, 2022.
Gallo Images/OJ Koloti
  • Former Regiments Capital shareholder Eric Woods will spend the festive season overseas.
  • Woods was granted permission to travel abroad by the Joburg Commercial Crimes court sitting in Palm Ridge.
  • He and others are facing a string of charges for allegedly defrauding Transnet.

Controversial businessman and former Regiments Capital Director, Eric Wood, has been allowed to travel to the United Kingdom.

The Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court sitting in Palm Ridge decided the ruliung after hearing an application brought by Woods on Wednesday.

Woods asked the court to allow the investigating officer in the fraudulent multi-million Transnet procurement deal to hand over both his local and British passports.

Magistrate Brian Nemavhidi then ordered the investigating officer to hand Woods his passports.

Woods is expected to travel to Britain on 19 December 2022 and is expected to return on 9 January 2023.

"By agreement between the two parties, all passports [must] be returned to the applicant. The return is subject to him providing proof of his address where he would be residing at least five days before departing.

"He should return both passports to the investigating officer within three working days upon arrival in South Africa," Nemavhidi ruled.

READ | Gupta-linked businessman gets passports back, can travel

Prosecutor Advocate Peter Masiakwala was not opposed to the application.

Wood's bail has been extended.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Investigative Directorate spokesperson, Sindisiwe Seboka, said it was not the first time Wood brought such an application before the court.

"He once applied for the relaxation of his bail conditions. We fought against that. Unfortunately, the court found against us and granted him his application. He travelled abroad, and he did return.

"We are operating on the faith that he would do the same this time. But, if he fails, we have various guarantees and securities through the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) component on which we can see his (assets) forfeited to the state."

Seboka added that Wood and Regiments Capital were going through liquidation.

"They are faced with various legalities. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) also wants a piece of the company. He does have a Trust where he, his daughter and another person are beneficiaries. We are hoping that that is enough.

"We are hoping through guarantees we got through the AFU he would do the right thing and come back. If not, we will have to extradite him. For now, we are consoled by the strong guarantees through the AFU," Seboka said. 

The accused 

Woods appeared briefly together with former Transnet and Eskom boss Brian Molefe, former Transnet group CEO Siyabonga Gama, former Group Chief Financial Officer Anoj Singh, Regiments Capital Directors Niven Pillay and Litha Nyhonhya, former Group Chief Financial Officer Garry Pita, former Group Treasurer Phetolo Ramosebudi, Regiments shareholder Eric Wood, Trillian Asset Management current Director, Daniel Roy for Novum Asset Management and Kuben Moodley for Albatime Pty Ltd. 

Transnet
Former Transnet CEOs Brian Molefe and Siyabonga Gama, ex-CFO Anoj Singh, former acting CFO Garry Pita and others from McKinsey & Co, Regiments Capital and Trillian appear in court.

The case was in court because the state wanted to check if the accused had received the promised disclosures.

READ | Brian Molefe, McKinsey in court over Transnet fraud - Barry Roux part of big defence team

"The investigating officer collected various hard drives from the accused to give them the voluminous docket. The disclosure continued until this morning.

"The accused are satisfied with what they have received. The next year's postponement is a holding date. They can still come back and ask for further particulars," said Seboka.

Background

The accused and their companies are facing charges stemming from the locomotives transaction advisory tender awarded to the McKinsey-led consortium in 2012, resulting in the procurement of 1064 locomotives worth over R54 billion. 

Regiments Capital was irregularly onboarded and ended up benefitting from the irregular appointment by Transnet in respect of the contract. 

The contract value and scope for the services required were later escalated to more than R305 million. 

This agreement included, among other services, the sourcing of the China Development Bank loan and the Club loan, which were in the amount of $2.5 billion, on behalf of Transnet. 

The accused also face charges linked to the R93.4 million paid to Trillian Asset Management in 2015.

The group is expected back in court on 20 April 2023.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated that McKinsey was not represented in court  as it was in the process of being liquidated. This was incorrect, as the firm has been represented since the start of the matter. It is not in the process of being liquidated. It is in fact Regiment Capital which is in the process of being liquidated. We apologise for the error, which has since been rectified.



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