Did dodgy loan boost Oak­bay list­ing price?

Sunday Times - - NEWS - THANDUXOLO JIKA

JUST weeks be­fore the Gup­tas listed their in­vest­ment ve­hi­cle Oak­bay Re­sources & En­ergy in Novem­ber 2014, the fam­ily lent an as­so­ci­ate $1-mil­lion to buy shares in the en­tity in an ap­par­ent bid to boost the price of the stock be­fore its de­but.

De­tails of the loan to Un­lim­ited Elec­tron­ics & Com­put­ers, a com­pany based in Singapore, were not de­clared to other share­hold­ers, thus prej­u­dic­ing them. Fur­ther­more, the South African Com­pa­nies Act re­quires share­holder ap­proval for is­su­ing shares to a per­son re­lated to the com­pany.

Un­lim­ited Elec­tron­ics has close ties to the Gup­tas through owner Kam­ran Raj Ra­diowala. Ra­diowala was MD at elec­tron­ics com­pany SES Tech­nolo­gies in In­dia, which was owned by Sa­hara Com­put­ers.

Sa­hara Com­put­ers CEO Ashu Chawla was a di­rec­tor of Un­lim­ited Elec­tron­ics be­fore he re­signed in 2015.

Leaked Gupta e-mails show that Ra­diowala wrote to the Gupta brothers re­quest­ing the funds. Based on the av­er­age rand/dol­lar price dur­ing 2014, the loan amounted to just un­der R11-mil­lion.

“We re­quest that you please make the loan ad­vance pay­ment as per our Loan Agree­ment . . . Kindly make the full elec­tronic trans­fer to the ac­count listed be­low,” said Ra­diowala.

He sent the same mes­sage to an­other Gupta as­so­ci­ate, San­jay Grover, a di­rec­tor at Fidelity En­ter­prises. This is a com­pany based in Dubai with shares in Maben­gela, a com­pany owned by the Gup­tas and Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s son Duduzane.

Oak­bay fi­nan­cials, sent to Tony Gupta by its then chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer and now CEO Ron­ica Ra­ga­van, show Un­lim­ited Elec­tron­ics paid $498 883.84 for shares in Oak­bay be­tween Novem­ber 19 and 21.

Oak­bay’s list­ing on the JSE was ap­proved on Novem­ber 21. The price was R10 a share.

Oak­bay made its of­fi­cial de­but on the JSE a week later, on Novem­ber 28, at R10.05.

The shares rose to a high of R50 in May 2015 — on a day when only 10 shares were traded.

Oak­bay shares now trade at R5.80.

On the eve of Oak­bay’s de­but, Ra­ga­van drafted an e-mail on be­half of Ra­diowala in­form­ing the bank­ing and fi­nan­cial ser­vices group Sas­fin that he wanted to sell 10 000 shares in the re­sources com­pany at a strike price of R10.05, which was valid un­til the first week of De­cem­ber 2014.

Ra­ga­van gave a sep­a­rate in­struc­tion to sell a fur­ther 10 000 shares at R10.08 a share in the same week.

It is not known if the sell or­ders were ex­e­cuted, or if Ra­diowala made a profit on the trans­ac­tion. Ra­ga­van de­clined to com­ment when con­tacted on Fri­day.

The leaked e-mails re­veal Ra­diowala and the Gup­tas had a long-

Sa­hara booked Ra­diowala into the Oberoi ho­tel in Dubai and ar­ranged for him to be chauf­feured

term busi­ness re­la­tion­ship, and he trav­elled with the fam­ily in their pri­vate jet.

There is also cor­re­spon­dence show­ing that Sa­hara booked Ra­diowala into the Oberoi ho­tel in Dubai and ar­ranged for him to be chauf­feured in a Jaguar. The com­pany also paid for Ra­diowala to visit South Africa in Oc­to­ber 2014.

Sas­fin pulled out of its re­la­tion­ship with the Gup­tas last year when ma­jor banks closed the fam­ily’s busi­ness ac­counts, cit­ing sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tions.

Sas­fin spokes­woman Cathryn Pear­man said its ter­mi­na­tion of the re­la­tion­ship “was for strate­gic rea­sons, as stip­u­lated in our me­dia state­ment at the time of the re­la­tion­ship with Oak­bay com­ing to an end”.

She said Sas­fin had no in­sight into the Gup­tas’ share trad­ing.

The Gup­tas did not re­spond to ques­tions sent to their lawyer Gert van der Merwe and Oak­bay’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions team.

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