CAPE TOWN – Four days before the Guptas’ business chiefs ambushed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on a radio station, their company Tegeta threatened Treasury over a report into coal contracts with Eskom.
The threat occurred when Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier submitted a request under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (Paia) for Treasury to release the documents.
Treasury chief procurement officer Kenneth Brown had been tasked with probing contracts over R10-million as Gordhan’s team focused on spotting corrupt deals.
Tegeta opposed the application and Treasury informed Maynier of this outcome. However, the DA shadow minister of finance then submitted another Paia request for the reasons for his first application being denied. Treasury sent him the correspondence they received from Tegeta, which Maynier shared with Fin24 on Thursday.
“The report seems to portray a unilateral effort by your Department to severely prejudice our business and our commercial relationship with Eskom,” Tegeta director Ravindra Nath told Treasury on June 23, four days before the radio ambush.
The ambush on June 27 occurred when four executives of four Gupta-owned companies ambushed Gordhan on PowerFM with questions focusing on the blacklisting of their bank accounts.
Unbeknown to the public, the Guptas were engaging with Treasury on more than just the banks at the time.
Nath told Treasury that Tegeta should be afforded an opportunity to respond “on what seems to be an effort to adversely affect the rights of our company”.
“We have received legal advice to record that we reserve our rights and, should you decide to disclose the aforesaid report, obviously not in context with the Constitutional principles affording us the right to comment on these averments (allegations) you do so at your own peril,” said Nath.
“We will consider obtaining further advice in launching an urgent application to interdict you from releasing the report until it has been subjected to scrutiny of all parties concerned.”
In another legal letter to Treasury, Tegeta said the report was in a draft format. “Any disclosure thereof will severely prejudice our client especially if cognisance is taken of the second point raised herein,” Tegeta’s lawyer said on July 13.
You can run, but you cannot hide
Maynier told Fin24 on Thursday that he intends appealing the decision.
"It's clear the report makes devastating findings against Tegeta Exploration & Resources,” he said in an emailed statement.
“And that's why Tegeta Exploration & Resources are desperate to keep the report out of the public domain,” he said.
“This is not the end of the road,” he said. “I’ll be appealing the decision not to provide me with a copy of the report made by National Treasury.
“And I want Tegeta Exploration & Resources to know this: you can run but you cannot hide."
Tegeta told Fin24 on Thursday that it simply wants any report publicly released to be accurate.
“At the time of the Treasury’s announcement of the investigation, Tegeta offered to participate and assist with the provision of relevant facts and accurate data,” it said in a statement.
“Following this offer, no response or feedback was ever received from the Treasury regarding Tegeta’s assistance.
“We believe that any report publicly released should be accurate. We also believe that our input would enhance its accuracy but, to reiterate, we have not been given the opportunity to do so.”