The liquidators of Aurora Empowerment Systems, which is accused of asset-stripping bankrupt Pamodzi Gold, will lay charges of fraud this week against Nelson Mandela’s grandson Zondwa, and Ahmed Amod, an attorney for the company.
The liquidators are also said to be planning to lay charges this week against Aurora chairman Khulubuse Zuma and possibly other directors under section 424 of the Companies Act, under which directors can be held personally liable for company debts.
The charges follow a threat by the liquidators to lay charges of perjury against Thulani Ngubane, a director of Aurora, after he gave evidence at an inquiry.
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Aurora’s directors are a political "who’s who", including President Jacob Zuma’s former attorney Michael Hulley and Mr Zuma’s nephew, Khulubuse Zuma.
The directors of the company are also facing a potential R1,7-billion in claims from the liquidators, who allege millions have been taken from the company in cash, gold sales, scrap metal and mining equipment.
The Solidarity trade union, a creditor of Aurora on behalf of members who are owed about R3,1-million in unpaid wages, said yesterday it would ask the JSE and the police "to treat these charges as a priority as more than 5300 South Africans were ruined financially by the Aurora case, while those responsible for the crisis are apparently untouchable".
A sensitive section 417 and 418 investigation into the demise of Pamodzi has uncovered evidence that Aurora directors manipulated information to the Securities Regulation Panel. This had the effect of delaying the cancellation of Aurora’s management contract with the liquidators, frustrating attempts to revitalise the mines, lead liquidator Johan Engelbrecht said yesterday.
Mr Engelbrecht said letters sent to the JSE and the Securities Regulation Panel regarding Aurora’s reverse listing into Labat in 2010 - a move meant to create a platform for Aurora to raise capital to resuscitate Pamodzi’s operations - were fraudulent.
Cheques written by Aurora in March that year were stopped and the funds meant to pay out Labat minority shareholders never reached Mr Amod’s trust account, Mr Engelbrecht said.
Despite this, Mr Amod wrote to the panel on March 15 to say his office, acting on behalf of its client Aurora, confirmed receipt of R5,35-million in his trust account. This was "the maximum amount that would be payable to the minority shareholders of Labat Africa" in the event that they accepted the Aurora offer and that the funds had been cleared.
Under the Labat deal Aurora placed two small gold mines into Labat in order to get JSE approval for its reverse listing. In terms of a deal Aurora had with Global Emerging Markets (GEM), a Swiss private investment group, once on the JSE, it would receive R725-million and GEM would take a stake in the new company.
GEM would invest a further R725-million to recapitalise the business and fund acquisitions.
The Labat transaction lapsed in November 2010 after conditions of the transaction were not met.
Aurora was removed as the preferred bidder for the assets by the courts in May last year.
The liquidators will give the police "supporting documents" later this week for the charges against Mr Mandela and Mr Amod, Mr Engelbrecht said.
Mr Mandela said he had not been informed of the charges.
Mr Amod declined to comment, saying only: "I deny that I committed any fraud."