Gupta-owned Oakbay responds to bias claims

The company says there's nothing unusual about one of its board members also sitting on the Eskom board.

FILE: Atul Gupta. Picture: LinkedIn

JOHANNESBURG - The Oakbay Investments company owned by the Gupta family says it doesn't believe the conflict of interest of one of its board members, also sitting on the Eskom board, is unusual.

#TNABizBrief Howa on Mark Pamensky sitting on the Oakbay and Eskom boards: In any company you will find conflict. It's normal. GW

Mark Pamensky was appointed to the Eskom board three months after joining the Oakbay board.

The company has also recently put in a bid for the Optimum Coal Mine which will supply Eskom with five percent of its coal.

This morning, Oakbay director Nazeem Howa responded to this alleged bias at The New Age business breakfast about ' state capture'.

#TNABizBrief Howa: State capture is not something discussed by Oakbay. To say we can influence leaders, you'd assume we have a puppet govt.

Howa says as long as Pamensky remains professional, they don't have a problem with his dual roles at Oakbay and Eskom.

"I think in any good company, you're always going to find people with conflicts. I don't think anybody is going to be without conflicts. When there is a discussion about Oakbay at Eskom, I can answer from our side that he recuses himself immediately."

Howa says ultimately the personal ethics of the board member is what matters.

"Ethics and morality has got nothing to do with personal relationships. It's about how you conduct your business."

The Guptas say despite being accused of capturing the state, no one has brought evidence to prove that their business interests are not legitimate.

#TNABizBrief Howa: One percent total Oakbay turnover comes from the government. GW


A number of corporations have indicated they are no longer going to do business with the Gupta family.

#TNABizBrief Howa reveals Oakbay Investments received letters from FNB on Friday indicating that the bank will close all their accounts. GW

Three South African companies, including KPMG and Barclays Africa, have severed ties with a firm owned by the Guptas, due to concerns over their relationship with President Jacob Zuma.

The third was investment bank Sasfin, which said it had decided to cut links with Gupta mining firm Oakbay Resources and Energy in March, two days after a newspaper suggested they may have had a hand in Zuma's sacking of finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December.

Sasfin's relationship with Oakbay will formally end on 1 June, a Sasfin spokeswoman said. The decision had not previously been made public.

Zuma has denied numerous allegations of the Guptas wielding undue influence. The Guptas have also routinely dismissed reports of their influence, saying they are pawns in a political plot to get Zuma out of office.

After the newspaper report last month, Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas said the Guptas had offered him the top job at the Treasury before Zuma fired Nene. The Guptas also denied that allegation.

#TNABizBrief Howa on Mcebisi Jonas allegations: We can provide evidence that the meeting with Mcebisi Jonas never happened. GW

WATCH: Jonas: The Guptas offered me finance minister job

Additional reporting by Reuters.