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Denel defends venture with Gupta-linked company

Top officials were grilled by the public enterprises oversight committee in Parliament yesterday.

Denel

CAPE TOWN- The board chairperson of state arms maker Denel has defended the company's decision to launch a joint venture with a Gupta-linked company.

Daniel Mantsha and other top officials were grilled by Parliament's public enterprises oversight committee in Parliament yesterday.

Denel Asia is a joint venture with VR Laser Asia, which is wholly owned by Gupta business associated Salim Essa. Essa owns nearly 70 percent of VR Laser South Africa, in which Rajesh Gupta and President Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane have a 25 percent interest.

Denel is at loggerheads with the National Treasury over the move, with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan last week accusing the board of showing "belligerence and arrogance".

Denel chairperson Daniel Mantsha says due diligence reports flagged the involvement of what he termed "politically exposed persons".

"All the recommendations from the due diligence reports have been complied with, of which one was how to deal with people who are politically exposed."

Treasury says Denel launched the joint venture without first getting the permission required by law.

Mantsha says Treasury did not respond to its application within 30 days and, that in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, this meant it could go ahead.

"Bribery, corruption - there are measures that are put in place to deal with those matters."

MPs also wanted to know why former CEO Riaz Salojee was paid a settlement after his suspension instead of facing a disciplinary hearing.