Advocate Geoff Budlender‚ instructed by Cheadle Thompson & Haysom Inc‚ has been appointed to lead an investigation into allegations that an executive of Trillian having had prior knowledge of the removal of former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene by President Jacob Zuma and his replacement with Minister Des van Rooyen.
This was announced on Friday by Tokyo Sexwale‚ independent non-executive chairman of Trillian Capital Partners.
Budlender’s terms of reference are to test the claims carried in a story in the Sunday Times‚ which also said the “Gupta-linked company” had “scored millions from state-owned companies for work it never did”.
The company has denied that the Gupta family had any shareholding or other interest whatsoever in Trillian.
Sexwale said Budlender has been asked to investigate the veracity of the information supplied by a whistleblower‚ believed to be a former employee of the company‚ including whether members of the Gupta family have ownership in company in any form and whether Trillian’s Chief Executive Dr Eric Wood did have prior knowledge of the dismissal and appointment of the Finance Minister “which he shared with any other person in the company and upon which any other person acted for commercial purposes”.
The terms of the probe are also “investigating corporate governance within Trillian and related parties and if any of the country’s laws have been violated; and investigating matters on country governance with regard to how‚ if at
all‚ information which ought to be the sole preserve of the President of the Republic‚ such as changing ministers‚ ended up in business circles including Trillian”.
Sexwale stressed: “Advocate Budlender has been encouraged and is free to consult and co-operate with any of the country’s law enforcement agencies including the Public Protector as he sees fit.”
The ANC veteran turned businessman also invited anyone with information to come forward and assist with the investigation.
“Corruption is threatening the body and soul of this country and should not be allowed to corrode the fabric of society. We should all be seen to be resolute in fighting the scourge‚” he said.