The National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa (NPA) is heading to court to seek permission to sell the multi-billion rand Optimum Coal mine as part of an attempt to recover the money stolen under State Capture.
“Following the recommendations by the State Capture Commission which recommended that the NPA act on the acquisition of Optimum Coal, the NPA has today lodged a forfeiture application for Optimum Coal Mine to Optimum Coal Terminal to the tune of over R3.4 billion,” Investigating Directorate Spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka said at the weekend.
“The application seeks to have the shares owned by Tegeta Exploration & Resources (Pty) Ltd to be forfeited to the state on grounds of having been acquired through proceeds of unlawful activities and the instrumentality of money laundering under the Prevention of Organised Crimes Act.
“Groundwork already done by the NPA resulted in a preservation order handed down in the NPA’s favour on 23 March 2022 by the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria.”
The court ruled on two interlinked matters.
“The first pertains to all Gupta-owned Tegeta shares in Optimum Coal Mine (OCM) and Optimum Coal Terminal,” explained Seboka.
“It also includes OCM’s business. All are preserved under section 38 of the Prevention of Organised Crimes Act 121 of 1998.
“The second pertains to the claim of R1.3 billion of Templar in relation to OCM, also preserved.
“This takes the total preservation to R3.4 billion.”
In court papers, the underlying claim to the Templar stake preserved are funds that were advanced by the Gupta family Dubai Company, Griffin Line Trading LLC, a company nominally controlled 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 derived from money stolen from the South African government and laundered via Singhala on behalf of his father and wider family members.
Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Ouma Rabaji-Rasethaba, responsible for asset forfeiture and the deponent of the papers, said that this was “one of the many ways that the NPA seeks to recoup proceeds of state capture as recommended in the Zondo Commission Report on State Capture”.
Rabaji-Rasethaba added: “As the NPA we are confident in the forfeiture application papers filed. The NPA remains committed to ensuring that the recommendations of the Commission are prioritised.”