Law firm in Ramaphosa-Bosasa scandal has actually confirmed allegations – Maimane
The DA leader has swatted aside threats that a Gupta-Trillian-Bosasa-Ramaphosa linked law firm wants to sue him for defamation.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane greets supporters outside Smart Global Campus in Krugersdorp, Johannesburg, 23 November 2018. Picture: Nigel Sibanda
In a statement on Wednesday morning responding to Tuesday evening’s threats of a defamation lawsuit from law firm Edelstein, Farber and Grobler (EFG), DA leader Mmusi Maimane has dismissed it as posturing, claiming the firm appeared to merely confirm everything the DA alleged in the first place.
Maimane said EFG in their statement admitted that they acted as a conduit through which money was channelled to Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign to become ANC president.
This included but was not limited to the R500,000 “donation” from controversial facilities management company Bosasa’s CEO, Gavin Watson, he said.
Maimane pointed to where EFG had stated “the trust account was created for the purposes of collecting funds in respect of the CR17 campaign and the funds received in the trust have been properly accounted for and audited”.
“But if this were true, and all of the funds were properly accounted for, then why didn’t they know that Bosasa had made a donation, and why did the president initially say this payment was for his son? There are still far more questions than answers. This is why we have called for the president to initiate an independent inquiry into Bosasa, so that we can get to the bottom of all of these questions.”
EFG claimed yesterday Maimane was misguided when he said the law firm had links to the Guptas and had been administering the “slush fund” from which R500,000 reached Ramaphosa’s campaign team last year.
Maimane had pointed out that Jeffrey Afriat, a director at EFG – the law firm which administered this trust account – had served as one of three directors of Trillian Capital, “a primary vehicle used by the Guptas to capture the state and loot billions of rands of public money”.
In response, EFG has said they were never privy to any of the information concerning the donors to Ramaphosa’s “CR17 campaign”. They said they had merely done their job to administer the trust account in question and Afriat had personally never been involved in any way in the matter.
They particularly took issue with Maimane’s use of the words “slush fund” and “funnelled through”, which they considered derogatory and suggestive of underhandedness, which was not a fair reflection of their professionalism, they protested.
They also dismissed the purported links between their firm, their executive executive director and shareholder Afriat and Trillian as baseless.
“The two issues (which by the way have nothing to do with EFG) are separate and distinct and there is no nexus between them whatsoever.”
They outlined Afriat’s history with Trillian, protesting that he had never been party to any of the Gupta-linked dealings for which the company became notorious. They, however, had to confirm that Afriat had been a non-executive director at Trillian.
“Mr Afriat played no role in the affairs of Trillian Capital Partners and never attended any board meetings. Mr Afriat at no stage was an employee or a shareholder of Trillian.”
Maimane, on Wednesday, remained convinced.
“If the president, EFG, and Mr Afriat are satisfied that all (other) transactions were above board, there should be no hesitation to accede to [the DA’s] request for an independent inquiry [into Bosasa and alleged corruption around it].”
He said he would formally approach the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, requesting Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo probe the “precise role” Afriat played during his tenure as a director at Trillian Capital, and to establish whether he had any relationship with the Gupta family and their business associates, including the Zuma family.
“The reality is that Mr Afriat was a director of Trillian Capital. Afriat is also cited twice by name in Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report. Afriat resigned as Trillian director shortly before the Budlender Inquiry into Trillian was launched. These are not wild allegations, they are just facts, and they are worthy of further exploration by an independent inquiry.”
He repeated his call for Ramaphosa to appoint a full-scale independent inquiry headed by a retired judge to be selected by the chief justice to fully investigate the Bosasa scandal, “which now involves the president and his family”.