For­mer Pe­troSA bo­ard mem­bers lo­se court bid for rein­sta­te­ment

Mossel Bay Advertiser - - News -

The We­stern Ca­pe High Court has dis­mis­sed the for­mer Pe­troSA bo­ard mem­bers’ ap­pli­ca­ti­on to be rein­sta­ted.

In Ju­ly, Wil­li­am S­teen­kamp and O­wen To­bi­as ap­pro­a­ched the court on an ur­gent ba­sis sta­ting that t­hey had been un­la­w­ful­ly re­mo­ved as di­rec­tors.

S­teen­kamp and To­bi­as ar­gued that one of the re­a­sons why t­hey we­re dis­mis­sed from their po­si­ti­on was be­cau­se the Cen­tral E­ner­gy Fund plan­ned to sell a 70% in­te­rest in the rig­hts to cer­tain Pe­troSA off-sho­re oi­l­field hol­dings to a sta­te-o­w­ned Rus­si­an com­pa­ny.

“T­hey al­le­ged that it was be­cau­se of their re­sis­tan­ce to t­his pro­po­sed plan and for re­a­sons of po­li­ti­cal in­tri­gue that the CEF bo­ard tur­ned a­gainst them and ul­ti­ma­te­ly ter­mi­na­ted their re­la­ti­ons­hip,” re­ads the judg­ment.

Jud­ge Lee Bo­za­lek said that the al­le­ga­ti­ons we­re strongly de­nied by CEF in its ans­we­ring af­fi­da­vit.

“Dis­tur­bing as the­se al­le­ga­ti­ons are, CEF’s de­ni­als are not so far-fe­t­ched or lacking in de­tail that t­hey can be dis­mis­sed out of hand on the­se pa­pers. It is not pos­si­ble for t­his court to ma­ke any fin­dings ba­sed on t­his as­pect of the ca­se,” said Bo­za­lek.

But the accu­sa­ti­ons re­cent­ly cau­sed a stir w­hen ANC tre­a­su­rer ge­ne­ral Dr Z­we­li Mk­hi­ze cal­led on CEF of­fi­ci­als to re­spond as to why he was drag­ged in­to al­le­ga­ti­ons that he wan­ted a Ni­ge­ri­an com­pa­ny to get the ex­plo­ra­ti­on de­al inste­ad of the sta­te-o­w­ned Rus­si­an com­pa­ny.

S­teen­kamp had in his af­fi­da­vit clai­med that CEF chai­r­per­son, Lu­vo Ma­ka­si and his ad­vi­ser An­da Bi­ci had con­fron­ted him out­si­de a meet­ing last y­e­ar and as­ked him why he had tur­ned the Pe­troSA bo­ard a­gainst the Rus­si­ans on the de­al and inste­ad opt for a Ni­ge­ri­an com­pa­ny lin­ked to the Mk­hi­ze.

Mk­hi­ze, Ma­ka­si and Bi­ci all de­nied the al­le­ga­ti­ons.

Bi­ci said he felt vin­di­ca­ted by the judg­ment. “Now that the mat­ter has been re­sol­ved by the high court, our fo­cus is on the task at hand which is to bre­ak new ground at CEF,” he said.

S­teen­kamp and To­bi­as could both not be re­a­ched for com­ment.

The judg­ment al­so high­lig­hts that CEF’s main re­a­son for the re­mo­val of the di­rec­tors was due to the R14.5-bil­li­on im­pair­ment by Pe­troSA of which R11.7-bil­li­on re­la­ted to the Pro­ject Ikhwe­zi, which was me­ant to find new gas de­po­sits off the co­ast of Mos­sel Bay to feed Pe­troSA’s gas-to-li­quids re­fi­ne­ry.

The pro­ject was an ab­ject fai­lu­re and no one on the bo­ard was held to ac­count.

CEF al­so ar­gued that the bo­ard mem­bers we­re not re­li­a­ble to im­ple­ment a success­ful tur­na­round stra­tegy for Pe­troSA and to im­pro­ve the sta­te of its fi­nan­ci­al and cor­po­ra­te go­ver­nan­ce.

“I con­si­der that the ap­pli­cants ha­ve fai­led to es­ta­blish that the im­pug­ned de­ci­si­on is one which a re­a­so­na­ble de­ci­si­on-ma­ker could ha­ve re­a­ched, par­ti­cu­lar­ly in the lig­ht of the very sub­stan­ti­al fi­nan­ci­al dif­fi­cul­ties in which Pe­troSA found it­self and w­hat was, at be­st, the strai­ned re­la­ti­ons­hip bet­ween Pe­troSA bo­ard and the CEF bo­ard,” re­ads the jud­ge­ment.

Sour­ce: Mail & Gu­ar­di­an

De­spi­te rumours to the con­tra­ry, no re­ports of un­ru­ly be­ha­vi­our we­re re­por­ted to the po­li­ce.

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