Cops to probe Aurora bosses

CityPress - - Business - – Bloomberg

Po­lice have opened a fraud case against a nephew of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, a grand­son of Nel­son Man­dela and three oth­ers af­ter a court held them li­able for the de­struc­tion of gold min­ing as­sets on Johannesburg’s East Rand.

The Hawks, which in­ves­ti­gate pri­or­ity crimes, would be gath­er­ing ev­i­dence and study a civil judg­ment de­liv­ered by the high court that held the di­rec­tors of Aurora Em­pow­er­ment Sys­tems, in­clud­ing Khu­lubuse Zuma and Zondwa Man­dela, per­son­ally li­able for the com­pany’s fail­ure, said po­lice spokesper­son Hang­wani Mu­laudzi.

Man­dela and three col­leagues – Thu­lani Ngubane, Solly Bhana and Fazel Bhana – mis­rep­re­sented Aurora’s abil­ity to pay for Pamodzi Gold mines in 2009 when its pre­vi­ous owner was placed un­der pro­vi­sional liq­ui­da­tion, the court said in its judg­ment. It also blamed the men for over­see­ing the de­cay of as­sets and the loss of 5 000 jobs. Zuma, while not in­volved in the bid process, showed “reck­less dis­re­gard” for his role as Aurora’s chair­per­son, the judge ruled.

The liq­uida­tors es­ti­mated the dam­ages at R1.7 bil­lion, court doc­u­ments showed. Lawyers for Ngubane, Man­dela and the Bhanas have ap­proached the union Sol­i­dar­ity to dis­cuss a pos­si­ble set­tle­ment on un­paid salaries, ac­cord­ing to Gideon du Plessis, gen­eral sec­re­tary at the labour or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Salary pay­outs will be capped at R28 000 per worker un­der liq­ui­da­tion reg­u­la­tions, Du Plessis said.

The ap­proach to Sol­i­dar­ity wasn’t an ad­mis­sion of li­a­bil­ity, said David Swartz, a lawyer for the four di­rec­tors. The di­rec­tors will “start ne­go­ti­a­tions” as “a ges­ture of good faith”.

On the po­lice in­quiry, Swartz said “good luck to them” and de­clined to com­ment fur­ther.

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