Good chance the crooks will pay
A firm that conducted forensic investigations into Transnet says there is a good chance of successful prosecution of those implicated in acts of wrongdoing.
According to Mncedisi Ndlovu, chair of Mncedisi Ndlovu & Sedumedi (MNS) Attorneys, the firm is working with law enforcement agencies to recover funds misappropriated from Transnet, in what they described as grand scale corruption, notes a Fin24 report.
‘Our mandate is to recover whatever money that has been lost to corruption back to Transnet,’ said Ndlovu on the sidelines of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture yesterday. MNS Attorneys compiled six investigative reports into Transnet, looking into allegations of irregularities by the state-owned entity.
Ndlovu said that the firm, in some of its reports, recommend that criminal charges be laid against those fingered in wrongdoing because they were ‘convinced that the cases are prosecutable'.
Reports produced by the firm have revealed startling acts of maladministration in connection with multi-billion rand contracts undertaken by the state-owned logistics agency, including the procurement of 1 064 locomotives in 2012.
In 2018, a report produced by Alister Chabi and Robert Oketch, of MNS Attorneys, showed former Transnet CEO Brian Molefe and ex-CFO Anoj Singh failed to exercise a duty of reasonable care and diligence relating to the locomotive deal. Molefe and Singh recommended a business case to the board that exposed Transnet to paying about R15bn more for the locomotives than originally indicated when the tender rocketed from R38.6bn to R54bn, according to the report.
‘I am confident that at some point we will see some action,’ said Ndlovu referring to legal proceedings.
Yesterday, the inquiry heard that Transnet employees did not appear to negotiate with the best interests of the state-owned entity at heart when agreeing to relocation costs for the production of hundreds of locomotives in 2015. Thobani Mnyandu, an expert at MNS Attorneys in construction law and tenders, was testifying about the group's probe of R1.25bn in relocation costs billed to Transnet after the site for the assembly of locomotives was changed from Pretoria to Durban.
The locomotives were part of a controversial contract for 1 064 new engines meant to upgrade and modernise Transnet's fleet, notes a second Fin24 report. Mnyandu said that, in initial talks between locomotive manufacturers China North Rail (CNR), Bombardier Transportation and Transnet, the location for the assembly of the locomotives was Koedoespoort in Pretoria. This was then changed to Durban. The inquiry heard previously that the cost for the relocation was ‘simply unjustifiable’.
Yesterday, Mnyandu said ‘there was no relocation’ in the strict sense of the word as the two locomotive manufacturers had not yet established themselves in Johannesburg. The initial cost of the CNR relocation was estimated at R9.7m, he said. This amount was later raised to R318m and then again to more than R647m. Mnyandu said Transnet staff did not appear to try and negotiate these costs down.
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