Platinum producer Lonmin blocked the release of a report on how it allegedly shifted profit out of South Africa while pleading that its housing commitments and workers’ wage demands were unaffordable.
The company sought a court interdict against a press conference scheduled for Wednesday by the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) where the report was to be released.
The report is based on financial statements of Lonmin’s operating subsidiaries in South Africa specially prepared for the tax authorities. But they were also submitted as evidence to the Farlam commission – allegedly on the understanding of confidentiality.
The leaking of the statements from the commission has allowed the AIDC to pierce the corporate veil, throwing open Lonmin’s affairs.
What emerge are allegations that Lonmin’s South African mines paid inflated commissions to a tax-free marketing arm in Bermuda, and to its headquarters in London, that outstrip any actual costs incurred by these parts of the company.
The transfers apparently averaged R292 million a year between 2006 and 2012.
Lonmin claims the AIDC is simultaneously defaming the company, undermining the Farlam commission by pre-empting its findings and making public confidential information at the commission in contravention of the terms of reference set for the commission.
Lonmin and the AIDC reached an interim agreement until the interdict application gets heard. According to the report’s author Dick Forslund, it will almost certainly still be released at a press conference - subject to giving Lonmin two days warning to review it. The AIDC also promised to stop claiming Lonmin has “hoodwinked” the Farlam commission or the tax authorities..
– Dewald van