Is the senior bureaucrat at public enterprises a Gupta spy?

Mogokare Richard Seleke denies that he is the man who leaked crucial information to the Gupta family about deals with state-owned enterprises. Image: SUPPLIED
 
The important players in state capture are not just political masters and Duduzane Zuma – they might include senior civil servants, too.

Someone with the e-mail address “Business Man” leaked crucial information to the Gupta family about deals with state-owned enterprises. But who is he?

In December 2015, Mogokare Richard Seleke – a civil servant of 20 years’ standing – was appointed director-general in the Department of Public Enterprises.

Six months before that, Business Man had e-mailed President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane .

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The e-mail reads: “Evening sir please find attached my CV and supporting documents.”

The attached CV is Seleke’s. The e-mail ends with “Regards, Richard”. But Seleke denied yesterday that he was Business Man.

“That is not my e-mail address. Lots of people have my CV and I cannot be held accountable for things which I have no control over,” Seleke said.

He challenged the Sunday Times to find fault with the way he was appointed. “I was moved from the position of DG at economic affairs to this one without a cent raise.”

Seleke was appointed to head the Free State department of economic development, tourism and environmental affairs in October 2013, when Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane – who has faced repeated allegations over his dealings with the Guptas – was MEC. He was appointed to the Transnet board in December 2014.

Other e-mails from Business Man to the Guptas in 2015 reveal information on the controversial Denel Asia merger. In one, Business Man says two Denel officials suggested Dubai as a good location for Denel Asia offices.

Another e-mail forwards a “confidential” letter from the Department of Public Enterprises’ acting deputy director-general of manufacturing enterprises, Vuyo Tlale, to Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown. It contains pre-notification of the proposed formation of Denel Asia.

An e-mail to Business Man includes a memorandum from Eskom’s lawyers about the utility’s rights relating to Optimum Coal’s business-rescue proceedings.

This legal opinion is sent from ‘matshela2010@yahoo.com’ just days after it was sent to Eskom on October 30 2015, with the note “Eskom legal counsel opinion sir”.

Three minutes later, matshela2010 sends a letter from mining house Just Coal to Eskom’s primary energy division coal-supply manager, Martin Makoni. Seven days later, both e-mails are forwarded to Ashu Chawla, CEO of Gupta-owned Sahara.

The Just Coal letter disputes Eskom’s unilateral and immediate cancellation of a supply contract to three power stations. “Your decision as it stands will have a costly negative financial impact on our business. We will continue to produce and make the contractual coal available for delivery,” says Just Coal chairman Joe Singh.

Matshela Koko was then the Eskom executive responsible for securing coal for power stations, and the e-mails coincided with Gupta negotiations to buy Optimum Coal from Glencore, which supplied the Arnot power station.

A Gupta company, Tegeta, was in the process of securing contracts to supply the Matla and Hendrina power stations.

In further e-mail correspondence, Chawla confirms Koko’s stay at the Oberoi hotel in Dubai in January last year. He writes: “Sahara will pay the entire bill, please do not ask any credit card guarantee from the guest at the time of check-in.”

Eskom declined to comment. “It is premature to respond in any specific way to the issues raised as these fall within the purview of the State of Capture report’s remedial action,” said spokesman Khulani Qoma.

Koko ignored calls, e-mails and SMSes over three days as well as a message sent to his Twitter account.

Yesterday he replied: “I will not respond in any specific way.”

In an interview at Eskom’s offices in January, he denied illegal dealings with the Guptas.

Colin Cruywagen, spokesperson for Department of Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, said the minister had repeatedly called for further investigation into allegations raised in the State of Capture report to spare state-owned companies further reputational damage.

SUNDAY TIMES NEWS BY KYLE COWAN, SIKONATHI MANTSHANTSHA AND GENEVIEVE QUINTAL

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