The Guptas had access to a plethora of sensitive and confidential financial contracts between multinational software vendor SAP and state-owned companies‚ according to The Times.
But the company on Tuesday denied it had paid millions as a “kickback” to a Gupta-owned business.
Leaked emails accessed by The Times further throw the spotlight on SAP‚ the Germany-based multinational‚ and the business activities of the Gupta family.
SAP has defended itself against accusations that it made irregular payments to a Gupta company to help secure a R100-million contract with Transnet.
SAP’s co-founder is the respected billionaire Hasso Platner‚ who maintains strong South African ties and owns the Fancourt Golf Estate in the Western Cape.
Besides details of the Transnet deal‚ the leaked emails also show the Guptas had access to far more SAP-related information.
These included inside information on another deal between SAP and Transnet relating to projects‚ which included something described as “maritime intelligence”.
A draft contract the Guptas laid their hands on relates to details of an SAP management tool for Eskom to the value of around R130-million. The tool is used to track documentation such as purchase orders‚ invoices and payments.
They also had access to information on a bid by SAP to provide commercial software for use in the South African public service.
It is not clear in all cases how they obtained this information but there is some correspondence between senior SAP South Africa executives and their counterparts at Gupta-owned Sahara Systems.
All of the emails between SAP and state-owned companies were emailed to the Guptas via their lieutenants Salim Essa and Ashua Chawla.
On Tuesday night SAP Africa spokesman Ansophie Strydom said it would issue a detailed statement on Wednesday responding to The Times inquiries.
Earlier on Tuesday SAP said there was nothing untoward in the millions it paid to Gupta-owned CAD House‚ which is partly owned by Duduzane Zuma‚ for a Transnet deal and described it as a normal “sales commission”.
Details of that payment were revealed by the amaBhungane and Scorpio investigative journalism teams‚ who are also reporting on the leaked emails.
But even though SAP downplayed its association with the Gupta businesses‚ The Times can reveal two of the most senior SAP South Africa executives were on the family’s 2014 Christmas gift list‚ where they were down to each receive a $500 bottle of whiskey.
One of them also cracked the nod for an invitation to numerous Gupta company-run events‚ according to the leaked emails.
SAP also provides services to at least one of the Guptas’ businesses‚ VR Laser.
The leaked emails show that in March 2015 there were confidential meetings with various Sahara executives‚ where they discussed‚ among other matters‚ a business rescue plan for CAD House.
It is not known why SAP entered into an agreement with the company to help secure the Transnet deal just months later‚ when CAD House was still facing business rescue.
Professor Jannie Rossouw of the Wits School of Economics said having insight into SAP’s systems for outsiders would be like striking gold.
“In economic terms this allows one to do ‘front running’ … it comes down to insider trading.”
He said access to SAP systems in state-owned entities would allow someone to potentially make huge profits off multi-billion rand government tenders.
“You can see how a deal is being shaped and set yourself up as the ideal government partner‚ whereas you have no ideas on the projects.”
The Guptas failed to respond to questions at the time of going to print.