Zondo hears details of how VR Laser was awarded Denel contract

State capture commission investigator Clearence Benjamin said that Salim Essa and Iqbal Sharma's company, Elgasolve, owned 74.9% of VR Laser, the Gupta company that was awarded an irregular contract at Denel even though its initial bid was R100 million higher than a Denel subsidiary.

FILE: Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - State capture commission investigator Clearance Benjamin said that Salim Essa and Iqbal Sharma's company, Elgasolve, owned 74.9% of VR Laser, the Gupta company that was awarded an irregular contract at Denel even though its initial bid was R100 million higher than a Denel subsidiary.

Benjamin said that the pair had shared interests in six companies.

Previously, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo heard that former VR Laser shareholder, Benny Jiyane, was coerced into selling his 25% stake, believing that he was selling to Essa. But as soon as the transaction was concluded, the Guptas appeared and he felt betrayed.

Sharma remains behind bars after he was charged, along with his brother-in-law and three former Free State officials, with fraud and money laundering for the Vrede dairy farm project, while Essa remains at large.

Benjamin said that Essa and Sharma's Elgasolve owned 80% shares in the National Agriculture Development Programme company while Sharma was also a Transnet board member from 2010 to 2014, appointed by former minister, Malusi Gigaba.

Elgasolve also held 74.9% shares in VCR Laser.

After the sneaky acquisition of VR Laser shares by the Guptas, it scored a contract with Denel even though its bid was R100 million higher than Denel subsidiary, LMT.

VR Laser then reduced its bid by a whopping R67 million, was allowed to submit a BEE certificate after the closing date and given a 10-year contract when Denel policy only allowed a maximum of three years.

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