Aurora liq­uida­tors tar­get En­ver Mo­tala

For­mer liq­uida­tor of failed gold mine claims ig­no­rance and is de­ter­mined to fight to clear his name

CityPress - - Business - DE­WALD VAN RENS­BURG and JEANNE VAN DER MERWE de­wald.vrens­burg@city­press.co.za

For­mer liq­uida­tor En­ver Mo­tala is one of three new tar­gets the re­main­ing liq­uida­tors of Pamodzi Gold plan to claim mil­lions of rands from. This week marked the first small vic­tory in the long saga fol­low­ing the com­pany’s pro­vi­sional liq­ui­da­tion in 2009 and the dis­as­trous at­tempt by Aurora Em­pow­er­ment Sys­tems to buy and re­vive its mines.

The Bhana fam­ily failed in an at­tempt to stave off a claim for R16 mil­lion.

Along­side Mo­tala, three other peo­ple who had con­trib­uted money to Aurora in the early days of the de­ba­cle, and re­ceived money back out, are now be­ing pur­sued for roughly an­other R20 mil­lion.

Th­ese in­clude Woody Cham­mas, the son of Aurora’s au­di­tor back in 2009, who had pitched in R1 mil­lion to cover Aurora’s de­posit to bid for the Pamodzi as­sets in the first place.

Mo­tala told City Press on Fri­day he “had no in­for­ma­tion” on the case against him but would “vig­or­ously op­pose” it if and when it came.

“They have no ba­sis in law ... I had given money to help the poor des­per­ate work­ers. It was of no ben­e­fit to me.”

Mo­tala had loaned R3 mil­lion to Aurora to pay work­ers’ salaries and though he re­ceived that money back, he says he re­ceived no in­ter­est.

AW Whole­salers, a fur­ni­ture com­pany based in Joburg’s Fords­burg sub­urb, is ap­par­ently an­other. Mo­tala had in ef­fect been in charge of the liq­ui­da­tion of Pamodzi un­til he as well as Gavin Gains­ford were re­moved in May 2011.

This was af­ter the other four liq­uida­tors had ap­plied to the mas­ter’s of­fice to have Mo­tala re­moved from the ap­proved list of liq­uida­tors al­to­gether.

Five days later, the re­main­ing liq­uida­tors kicked Aurora out of the Pamodzi mines, af­ter Mo­tala had al­legedly been the main rea­son it had not hap­pened a lot sooner.

It emerged around that time Mo­tala was in fact En­ver Da­wood and had changed his name to dis­guise fraud con­vic­tions that would dis­qual­ify him from act­ing as a liq­uida­tor.

De­spite this, Da­wood/Mo­tala had for more than a decade presided over mul­ti­ple high-pro­file liq­ui­da­tions.

The case against the Bhana fam­ily this week is the first part of an at­tempt to re­coup money paid back to a group of fam­ily, friends and as­so­ciates of Aurora’s ad­vis­ers, Suli­man and Fazel Bhana, the fa­ther-and-son team re­spon­si­ble for ar­rang­ing Aurora’s fund­ing.

Al­to­gether R35 mil­lion is be­ing chased in two tranches, ac­cord­ing to John Walker, the liq­uida­tors’ lawyer.

On Fri­day, the claims against Mo­tala, Cham­mas and AW Whole­salers were filed in court. An­other one is pend­ing against an in­di­vid­ual in Dur­ban.

The ba­sis of th­ese claims is that th­ese cred­i­tors were tak­ing money out of Aurora while other cred­i­tors were left in the lurch.

But Suli­man Bhana told City Press on Fri­day the or­der was granted pre­ma­turely, and they in­tended to ap­peal the rul­ing.

In court pa­pers filed for the sep­a­rate case against Aurora’s di­rec­tors, “a writ­ten loan agree­ment was con­cluded between Aurora and Cham­mas, who was re­paid the R1 mil­lion by Aurora once the R1 mil­lion was re­funded by the joint pro­vi­sional liq­uida­tors”.

They go on to say that Cham­mas is in pos­ses­sion of the loan agree­ment, al­though it was not in­cluded in the court pa­pers like most other doc­u­ments re­ferred to.

WHAT NEXT

This week, the R16 mil­lion the Bhanas had to pay back was over­shad­owed by the post­pone­ment of the far more dra­matic claim for R1.7 bil­lion against Aurora’s di­rec­tors as well as Suli­man and Fazel Bhana, in their ca­pac­ity as ad­vis­ers to the com­pany.

The di­rec­tors in ques­tion are the pres­i­dent’s nephew Khu­lubuse Zuma, for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela’s grand­son Zondwa Man­dela as well as Thu­lani Ngubane.

Aurora it­self was liq­ui­dated some time ago and the Pamodzi liq­uida­tors are try­ing to hold its di­rec­tors per­son­ally li­able for al­leged dam­ages of R1.7 bil­lion.

To do this, they need to demon­strate that the di­rec­tors ran Aurora in a reck­less or fraud­u­lent way. If they suc­ceed in get­ting the court to hold the Aurora di­rec­tors re­spon­si­ble, it will prob­a­bly re­sult in se­ques­tra­tion or­ders – sell­ing their as­sets to re­coup the cash.

Ac­cord­ing to Jo­han En­gel­brecht, one of the four re­main­ing liq­uida­tors of Pamodzi Gold, ac­tu­ally re­cov­er­ing the full R1.7 bil­lion is prob­a­bly “far-fetched”.

The to­tal claims on Pamodzi by cred­i­tors roughly add up to R1 bil­lion, he says.

What did emerge this week is the clear split of the Aurora role play­ers into two op­pos­ing camps, with Khu­lubuse Zuma try­ing to pin the blame on his for­mer part­ners.

Ngubane filed an af­fi­davit on be­half of all the oth­ers pur­su­ing a com­pletely dif­fer­ent le­gal strat­egy from Zuma’s – and telling a fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent story about who did what at the ill-fated com­pany. This seems to fol­low old friend­ship ties. The Bhanas have known Man­dela since he was a child and have known Ngubane for 12 years, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit. They were in­tro­duced to Zuma by Ngubane. Zuma’s ver­sion states he was a rel­a­tively un­in­volved chair­man and didn’t re­ally know what was go­ing on on the ground. In his pa­pers, he re­peat­edly refers al­le­ga­tions to Man­dela, Ngubane and the Bhanas, say­ing he sim­ply doesn’t know. Zuma’s real le­gal de­fence is more tech­ni­cal. Ac­cord­ing to his af­fi­davit, there is no claim against Aurora and, as a con­se­quence, there can­not be a claim against its di­rec­tors.

He also claims the in­terim con­tracts signed with Aurora to run the mines between 2009 and 2011 were in­valid to be­gin with, mean­ing Aurora can­not be ac­count­able for not stick­ing to them.

The af­fi­davit of all the other di­rec­tors in­volves an in­cred­i­bly de­tailed blow-by-blow ac­count of how they cre­ated Aurora – and how cir­cum­stances be­yond their con­trol con­tin­u­ously un­der­mined all their at­tempts to raise the money to buy and re­store the Pamodzi mines.

It also as­serts that Zuma was in fact as in­volved as all of them were.

Ngubane also tries to turn the ta­bles, ac­cus­ing the liq­uida­tors of sab­o­tag­ing the last fund­ing deal Aurora was set­ting up when they got kicked off the mines.

This was a promised $100 mil­lion in­vest­ment from Shan­dong Gold, ap­par­ently bro­kered by Zuma while vis­it­ing China as part of a del­e­ga­tion with his un­cle, the pres­i­dent, in 2011.

That money would have come through if the liq­uida­tors hadn’t kicked out Aurora, Ngubane claims.

“The liq­uida­tors have only them­selves to blame for what ul­ti­mately tran­spired.”

Ngubane and the Bhanas are in­sist­ing that a proper trial is needed and list at least 36 dif­fer­ent wit­nesses that would have to be called, from bankers to mine man­agers, the dis­missed liq­uida­tors and Chi­nese in­vestors.

There are “ir­re­solv­able dis­putes of fact”, they say.

DIS­GRACED

En­ver Mo­tala

The amount be­ing sought in claims from for­mer liq­uida­tor En­ver Mo­tala and oth­ers who

con­trib­uted money to Aurora

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