Investec perfected the capture game long before the Guptas landed

Investec perfected the capture game long before the Guptas landed

Kebblegate set a precedent for institutional take-overs.

While Jacob Zuma and team seem to have perfected the technique of institutional “capture”, Investec was at it a decade ago when it bagged the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in order to control which cases don’t get heard in court and remain covered-up forever. This is exactly what happened to potential prosecutions that should have flowed from the Kebble frauds. In hindsight, with the wildly complicated Kebble saga unravelled, it is possible to see how Investec achieved this “coup”.

Law enforcement involves four distinct entities, each of which should be independent of the others, and of everything else: the police, or investigators, who must  “uphold and enforce” the law; the prosecutors, whose mandate is to act “without fear, favour or prejudice”; the bench, or judiciary, of magistrates and judges; and the correctional services. If one or more of these four falls into compromised hands, the entire system is at risk.

It is arguable that prosecutors are the most appealing target for high-skills white-collar criminals. The NPA has long tended to hire external “experts” to assist in investigations and case preparation for the prosecution of high-profile white collar criminals. While the decision of whether or not to proceed with such a case lies with the prosecutor, much of his or her role in the white collar area has thus long been privatised.

Sweet deal for sugar giant leaves bitter taste

Sweet deal for sugar giant leaves bitter taste

Pensioners claim Tongaat-Hulett plundered a R585m surplus from their pension fund. 

They gave the best part of their working lives to Tongaat-Hulett Ltd, the KZN-based sugar giant which has operations throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. But behind their backs, the employer they say was “once a good company”, systematically plundered their pension fund “surplus” of more than R585 million – leaving them with zilch – before “outsourcing” the aged pensioners and workforce to a more expensive scheme with poorer prospects.

This is the claim before the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban by 73 pensioners (77, when they started in 2012 but four have since died) who are convinced that the JSE-listed firm hatched an immoral and secret plan, spanning six years, to brazenly commandeer  pension funds that should have been shared with them.

The fund, whose board of trustees is heavily loaded with senior executives from Tongaat-Hulett (interim September 2015 results reflected an operating profit of R1.4 billion) insists that it has done nothing wrong: the trustees claim that even if they have erred they would be “within their rights” to reallocate all surplus to the employer again, even if a court should rule to the contrary. 

Labat: from stink to stench

Labat: from stink to stench

The stock price collapsed – with overwhelming evidence that insiders were active.

When the JSE share price of an otherwise unexceptional company, Labat Africa, suddenly and mysteriously soared by more than 1,000% – after bumping along around 10c per share (cps) for years – Noseweek smelled something fishy. By 12 June last year the stock price had gone up to 123 cps and possible reasons were discussed in nose190.

There was, of course, something cooking – which insiders knew about. Also on 12 June, Labat announced the acquisition of the Reinhardt Transport Group (RTG). Labat had been issuing cautionary notices for about a year, indicating that it was in talks that could affect its stock price.

Investors were told that Reinhardt Transport was to be paid for by contributing R230 million in vendor finance (debt); RTG would in turn be paid R330m cash, raised by way of Labat’s issuing a raft of new shares.

Durban residents smell a rat

Durban residents smell a rat

Down in the dumps, something stirs... 

Residents of Durban’s polo and show-jumping belt have long contended with the farmyard pong of horse manure. Now they believe the air is being poisoned by a nearby chemical dump.

They claim the air is polluted  with a “thick pungent gas and chemical smell” leading to “nausea, vomiting, headaches, coughing spasms, eye redness” and “generally feeling revolting”. They say it has got worse over the past six months.

In a joint statement, Gail and Jim Hawkins say: “the only comparison we can make is of a rotting rat – one that has been dead for a few days”.

Resident Amy Fisher, a food critic, claims she developed red boils on her back, neck and torso as a result of the toxic air. “The dump smells like rotten eggs, wet soaks and diesel gas,” she said.

The chemical dump site is operated by Enviroserv. It accepts industrial chemicals, condemned foodstuffs, contaminated soil and general waste.

UCT's revolting circus

UCT's revolting circus

Now everyone’s in on the act. Todd Gillespie, writing in the British-based internet magazine, Spiked, following the burning of paintings by Rhodes Must Fall protesters at UCT in February, noted t ...

The Waste Land

The Waste Land

Dirty work at the crossroads alleged as the nation’s biggest medical detritus trial looms. 

 Edgar Adams, once a leading figure in the lucrative medical waste industry has been fired from the company he founded. And he alleges that he has been coerced into selling his shares to a competitor.

Adams has launched interdict proceedings in the Western Cape High Court against the current directors of Solid Waste Technology (SWT) Holdings to stop the sale of his shares, claiming that an investor who provided capital for his business while it was under business rescue was part of a devious corporate takeover strategy.

The alleged conspirators deny this, claiming he willingly agreed to the sale of his shares.

When is a freebie something else?

When is a freebie something else?

Does it signify anything if a journalist is given a free ticket to compete in a major cycling race?

The question was put to Absa, sponsor of the annual Cape Epic, and Ryk van Niekerk, editor of Moneyweb. The race, which takes eight days, is, according to David Wingfield from Absa parent Barclays “considered the toughest mountain bike race on the planet”. It is also highly prestigious and attracts entrants from all over the world.

Places are highly restricted. Most interested potential entrants don’t get to go. This year the entry fee alone was R60,000 per team of two people.

While no cash changed hands, this is what Van Niekerk and his friend, the other member of his team, were given.

Blood and sand

Blood and sand

Following the recent assassination of Eastern cape anti-mining activist Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe, the heads of health schools at five universities wrote to Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane, calling for the suspension of mining in the Amadiba
area of the Wild Coast. A similar letter was sent to the Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi.

This is their letter:

31 March 2016

Dear Honorable Minister Zwane,

We write to express and bring to your attention our shock and sadness at the brutal murder of the chairperson of Amadiba Crisis Committee, Mr Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe last week.

Bibliotherapy. Novel treatment

Bibliotherapy. Novel treatment

Australia has approved the biggest coal mine this country has ever seen, in Queensland. Former chief scientist at the Institute of Marine Science, Dr Charlie Veron, says it is “akin to evil”. “T ...

Google at your peril

Google at your peril

A few hundred whistleblowers, investigative journalists, hacktivists and encrypters from all over the world stepped from trams and tubes on to Berlin’s Alexanderplatz on an icy day in March, all heading for the city’s conference ...
 
Investec perfected the capture game long before the Guptas landed

Investec perfected the capture game long before the Guptas landed

Kebblegate set a precedent for institutional take-overs. While Jacob Zuma and team seem to have perfected the technique of institutional “capture”, Investec was at it a decade ago when it bagged the National ...

Sweet deal for sugar giant leaves bitter taste

Sweet deal for sugar giant leaves bitter taste

Pensioners claim Tongaat-Hulett plundered a R585m surplus from their pension fund.  They gave the best part of their working lives to Tongaat-Hulett Ltd, the KZN-based sugar giant which has operations throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. But ...

Labat: from stink to stench

Labat: from stink to stench

The stock price collapsed – with overwhelming evidence that insiders were active. When the JSE share price of an otherwise unexceptional company, Labat Africa, suddenly and mysteriously soared by more than 1,000% – after ...

Durban residents smell a rat

Durban residents smell a rat

Down in the dumps, something stirs...  Residents of Durban’s polo and show-jumping belt have long contended with the farmyard pong of horse manure. Now they believe the air is being poisoned by a ...

UCT's revolting circus

UCT's revolting circus

Now everyone’s in on the act. Todd Gillespie, writing in the British-based internet magazine, Spiked, following the burning of paintings by Rhodes Must Fall protesters at UCT in February, noted that “In a pathetic move to ...

The Waste Land

The Waste Land

Dirty work at the crossroads alleged as the nation’s biggest medical detritus trial looms.   Edgar Adams, once a leading figure in the lucrative medical waste industry has been fired from the company he founded. And ...

When is a freebie something else?

When is a freebie something else?

Does it signify anything if a journalist is given a free ticket to compete in a major cycling race? The question was put to Absa, sponsor of the annual Cape Epic, and Ryk van Niekerk, editor ...

Blood and sand

Blood and sand

Following the recent assassination of Eastern cape anti-mining activist Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe, the heads of health schools at five universities wrote to Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane, calling for the suspension of mining in ...

Bibliotherapy. Novel treatment

Bibliotherapy. Novel treatment

Australia has approved the biggest coal mine this country has ever seen, in Queensland. Former chief scientist at the Institute of Marine Science, Dr Charlie Veron, says it is “akin to evil”. “There is no ...