Will gutted warehouse reveal PIC secrets?
Publish date: 11 October 2018
Issue Number: 632
Diary: Legalbrief Forensic
Twelve minutes’ drive from the Port of Nacala in northern Mozambique lies the 35-hectare industrial complex that houses a palm oil refinery, soap manufacturing plant, office and staff accommodation blocks and a dozen or more warehouses. On 24 February, 2014 a large consignment of imported motorcycles caught fire, gutting a warehouse and leaving a mountain of mangled metal parts. Published research papers have linked the bikes to the same people who allegedly ran a scam in which import duties on motorcycles were evaded by claiming they were for the ruling Frelimo and that their petrol tanks had doubled up as vessels for trafficking heroin. An Amabhungane investigation notes that it may be premature to speculate whether the complex’s owner Momade Rassul Rahim was complicit but his arrest on allegations of money laundering, tax fraud and smuggling last year will add to the suspicion. It notes that he did not respond to queries last week and has yet to stand trial. The investigation reveals that South African civil servants, through their pension fund, came to be Rassul’s business partners and majority owners of S&S Refinarias de Óleos LDA, the palm oil refining and associated business he had built at that site. The short answer of how this happened appears in the records of the PIC which state that is was approached by SA company lndiafrec Trade & Invest (Pty) Ltd to establish and fund the consortium to facilitate a 50% acquisition of S&S Refinery LDA In Mozambique. In addition the records that that ‘Indiafrec … is the brain child of two young entrepreneurs, Muhammad Amir Mirza and Siyabonga Nene’, the son of Nhlanhla Nene, then Deputy Minister of Finance. Nene Sr used his appearance at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture last week to ‘deny that I have ever acted inappropriately with regard to any investments made by the PIC’ or that ‘I knowingly acted to promote any funding from the PIC for any business involving my son’. Amabhungane says the available evidence suggests a picture of the PIC rushing eyes wide shut into a R1bn investment that could only bring trouble, made not in the interest of government pensioners but founded on the need to gratify Nene Jr and his business partner.