Oakbay wants to swim free in SA’s financial waters – as another big fish leaves

The controversial Gupta-owned and Zuma-friendly, Oakbay Resources continues to play musical chairs with its leadership – as its CEO, Jacques Roux quits a fortnight ahead of the company’s court stand-off against Finance Minister Gordhan. Zuma is blatantly against legislation giving Treasury greater ability to go fishing in any (we say dicey-looking) bank accounts, labelling it unconstitutional – in spite of legal advice to the contrary from some of the most respected lawyers in the country. The looming court stand-off centres on Gordhan’s application to protect himself from having to intervene on behalf of the Guptas, who sent him a plethora of letters pleading for help. To all intents and purposes, it seems akin to asking Gordhan to erect a ‘no-fishing’ sign alongside a pool containing piranhas. The satirical cartoon would be of Zuma and Gordhan grappling over the ‘no-fishing’ signpost, with some toothy-looking fish circling in the banking pond alongside. One has to ask; what exactly is driving the leadership resignations and chair-shifting at Oakbay? – Chris Bateman

By Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Oakbay Resources and Energy CEO Jacques Roux has resigned, two weeks before the company is set to face off against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in court.

Oakbay Resources and Energy [JSE:ORL] is one of the 21 respondents expected in the North Gauteng High Court hearing from 28 to 31 March. Roux will vacate his position only at the end of March, so should be available for the hearing.

Gordhan lodged an application to protect himself from having to intervene on behalf of the Guptas, who sent him a plethora of letters pleading for help.

This followed the blacklisting by South Africa’s top four banks of Oakbay Resources and Oakbay Investments – which owns the New Age, Sahara and ANN7 among others – following allegations of state capture through their friendship with President Jacob Zuma.

Oakbay Investments CEO Nazeem Howa resigned in October 2016, citing health reasons, and was replaced with Ronica Ragavan as acting CEO.

The leadership at Oakbay Resources and Energy has experienced a tumultuous period after Varun Gupta resigned as CEO in 2016, along with other Gupta family members who were directors of the firm, citing a political attack on the family.

Nazeem Howa, former CEO of Oakbay Investments

Trevor Scott first took over the role in an acting position, before Roux – who was CEO at Gupta-owned JIC Mining Services – assumed the role in May 2016.

It is not clear why Roux has resigned, but the firm said he will be replaced by George van der Merwe in an acting role – a position he has held before in 2015.

“The board wishes to thank Mr Roux for his valuable contribution to the company and wishes him well in his future endeavours,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Oakbay Resources is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr George van der Merwe as the acting chief executive officer of the company with effect from 1 April 2017.”

Roux and Van der Merwe will “ensure a seamless transition and handover of responsibilities”.

Oakbay also advised shareholders that Melanie Chong, the interim financial director of the company, has now been appointed in this position in a permanent capacity.

Oakbay Resources and Energy mines for gold and uranium in South Africa. – Fin24


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