Oakbay CEO Nazeem Howa steps away from Guptas. Who can blame him for feeling ill?

Nazeem Howa, chief executive officer of Oakbay Investments, has stepped away from the Gupta family, handing in his resignation with immediate effect. People who have had close dealings with Howa have been surprised that it has taken him so long to distance himself from his employers – who are at the centre of financial scandals involving President Jacob Zuma. Howa is a former news reporter who rose swiftly through the ranks of the Sunday Times and then the Independent group to become an editor before reinventing himself as a mover-and-shaker in the resources sector. Howa is a lot like Marmite: an acquired taste. People who have worked with Howa or have had dealings with him tend to either like him greatly or dislike him intensely – there’s no in-between. Those who like him have seen a soft, kind side to Howa, a man who cares greatly about his employees and colleagues. It’s that side that he was undoubtedly hoping to get across today when he emphasised, once again, that there are thousands of jobs at stake as the Oakbay empire risks collapse. Unfortunately Howa has inevitably been tarnished with the brush that has swept across the Gupta brothers and Jacob Zuma and associates – and for good reason, as this is undoubtedly the worst financial scandal the new South Africa has seen. Guptagate is threatening to topple Zuma and could be the beginning of the fall of the ANC. In the days and weeks ahead, we will inevitably hear more about the extent of Howa’s involvement in the billions of rands in #Guptagate transactions that have been brought to the fore. Who can be surprised that Howa has taken ill? He must feel sick: sick to his stomach about what he must have seen unfolding behind the scenes and what lies ahead, for his former colleagues and himself. –Jackie Cameron

By Lameez Omarjee, Pieter-Louis Myburgh and Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – Oakbay Investments on Monday announced the resignation of its chief executive officer Nazeem Howa with immediate effect.

The company that runs the South African business interests of the Guptas said in a statement that after a period of illness, Howa has stepped down from his duties at Oakbay due to health issues and on medical advice.

Nazeem Howa, former CEO of Oakbay Investments, a Gupta-family owned company, during an interview with Bloomberg at their Johannesburg offices in South Africa on Monday, April 11, 2016. Pic: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg
Nazeem Howa, former CEO of Oakbay Investments, a Gupta-family owned company, during an interview with Bloomberg at their Johannesburg offices in South Africa on Monday, April 11, 2016. Pic: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg

The announcement was the third in a series of statements Oakbay released on Monday in reaction to an explosive affidavit Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan submitted to court on Friday.

Oakbay Resources and Energy Limited [JSE:ORL] confirmed in a statement to shareholders earlier on Monday that five of its transactions are implicated in the list of 72 transactions reported to the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) mentioned in Gordhan’s affidavit.

Oakbay Resources and Energy is one of the mining subsidiaries that falls under Oakbay Investments. The JSE-listed firm owns Shiva Uranium and the Brakfontein mine.

In a follow-up statement, Oakbay Investments said claims that R1.3bn was paid from the Optimum Rehabilitation Trust are “untrue” and “defamatory”.

Pravin Gordhan, South Africa's finance minister, listens during a panel discussion at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group Annual Meetings in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. The IMF warned this week that rising political tensions over globalization are threatening to derail a world recovery already seeking a reliable growth engine. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Pravin Gordhan, South Africa’s finance minister. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

In a statement, the group confirmed that “no monies” has been removed from the fund.

This follows reports over the weekend that transactions worth R6.8bn involving the Gupta family were featured in a court application filed by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. The FIC deemed these transactions, concluded between 2012 and June 2016, to be “suspicious” as they did not relate to legitimate business transactions.

Several pages of correspondence that had taken place between Howa and Gordhan were also included in the documents submitted to the court, among which was a letter of apology for attacking National Treasury.

Oakbay said Ronica Ragavan, the current financial director of Oakbay, will assume the role of acting CEO, while the company searches for a permanent successor.

‎Howa joined Oakbay in 2010.

Revealed: Pravin Gordhan’s private meeting with Oakbay CEO Nazeem Howa

Ragavan said in the statement that Howa has been a outstanding chief executive for Oakbay and embodied the company’s philosophy of hard work, innovative thinking, job creation and disruption where disruption creates value.

“We wish him the very best in his recovery.”

Howa said in the same statement it “has been an honour and a privilege to lead such a talented group of co-workers”.

“In time, Oakbay will be recognised as the type of company South Africa needs: innovative, job-creating, tax paying and law-abiding. I look forward to that day,” Howa said in a statement.

Guptas’ Oakbay says only five deals on Gordhan list linked to them

Johannesburg – Oakbay Resources and Energy Limited [JSE:ORL] has confirmed that five of its transactions are implicated in the list of 72 transactions reported to the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).

Oakbay Resources and Energy is one of the mining subsidiaries that falls under Oakbay Investments. The JSE-listed firm owns Shiva Uranium and the Brakfontein mine.

Oakbay_Resources

This follows reports over the weekend that R6.8bn worth of transactions involving the Gupta family were featured in a court application filed by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. These transactions were concluded between 2012 and June 2016. News24 reported that these transactions were deemed “suspicious” by the FIC because they did not relate to legitimate business transactions.

“Five transactions relate to the company, or its subsidiary company,” Oakbay stated in a Sens announcement issued on Monday. “The company is in the process of investigating the five transactions referred to above, and is working with regulatory authorities, where necessary, in this regard.”

Oakbay stated it is engaging with external auditors regarding the transactions and any possible impact that may result in relation to previously reported financial information.

“At this stage, the company does not have any reason to believe that previously reported financial information will be restated in relation to these five transactions, and shareholders will be updated accordingly in this regard.”

Subsidiaries featured in the FIC report include Shiva Uranium, with transactions worth R968m, and Oakbay Investments, with transactions worth R781m. Coal mine Optimum’s mining rehabilitation fund came to the fore with a R1.3bn transaction.

Read also: The Great Zupta, IDC con. Worthless Shiva mine now valued at R14.7bn

South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) governor Lesetja Kganyago flagged possible political interference into banks in April this year. Fin24 reported Kganyago raised these concerns in a letter, which formed part of the affidavit submitted by Gordhan on Friday.

Earlier this year, Oakbay Investment CEO Nazeem Howa said the company supported a judicial inquiry into four major banks which closed off the company’s account, without reason. “We are still in the dark as to why they closed accounts. A judicial inquiry will ensure that the truth comes out,” he said.

At the announcement of Oakbay Investments’ financial results in September, Howa said reports on state capture were untrue. The group also emphasised that it earned only R233m from its total revenue of R2.62bn from government contracts. – News24

Source: http://www.fin24.com/Companies/Investment-Holdings/breaking-nazeem-howa-quits-oakbay-20161017

Source: http://www.fin24.com/Companies/Investment-Holdings/guptas-oakbay-says-only-five-deals-on-gordhan-list-linked-to-them-20161017