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Ex-VR Laser shareholder was coerced into selling stake to Guptas, inquiry told

Benny Jiyane said he negotiated the sale of his stake with Salim Essa and former Transnet board member Iqbal Sharma in 2013.

A screengrab of former VR Laser shareholder Benny Jiyane giving testimony at the state capture inquiry on 19 March 2019.

JOHANNESBURG - Former VR Laser shareholder Benny Jiyane says he was coerced into selling his 25% shares of VR Laser to Gupta-linked businessman Salim Essa.

Jiyane testified at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday.

He said he negotiated the sale of his stake with Essa and former Transnet board member Iqbal Sharma in 2013 and signed the contract at the Michelangelo Hotel with input from Ernst & Young.

But things changed when a Gupta brother unexpectedly showed up at his company in 2014 and told him that he owned the firm now.

Jiyane said he felt blindsided and betrayed.

“If somebody is a proxy for somebody, and they don’t declare that when you have negotiations, the trust doesn’t exist at all. If I had at least the opportunity to meet the Guptas, then I would have had the chance to find out why they wanted the business.”

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