Guptas vs Sunday Times – Oakbay director Howa protesteth too much

South Africa’s leading weekend newspaper, the Sunday Times, laid into the Gupta family laid into the Gupta family over the weekend. But this time instead of threatening to sue, the politically connected Indian immigrants set former Independent Newspapers Gauteng MD Nazeem Howa onto the newspaper. Howa, now entrenched as a Gupta lieutenant, spoke in his capacity as a director of Gupta flagship, JSE-listed Oakbay Resources, a resuscitation of the bankrupt Uranium One. The family controlled Oakbay is a thinly traded stock with trading turnover in 2015 just R613,000 in total. Its inflated share price translates into market capitalisation of a staggering R24bn – not since Tigon has the JSE hosted such an unrealistic valuation of a single name. Last month in a Mugabe-like move, respected miner George vd Merwe was replaced as CEO by one Varun Gupta, nattily dressed nephew of family patriarch Atul. Whatever credibility Howa’s other arguments may have, in the light of this appointment you have to chuckle at the final para in the News24 piece below. My experience around the influence which the Gupta family has over President Jacob Zuma suggests the Sunday Times has hit rather raw and very real nerves. Because until now, Atul and his crew have rarely bothered responding to criticism SA’s free media is certain to level at any suddenly fabulously wealthy, very politically-connected family. Especially when the family shamelessly applies its influence to its own advantage. – Alec Hogg

Durban – Oakbay Investments director Nazeem Howa has hit out at the Sunday Times after a report that he labelled as “factually bankrupt” on Sunday.

The Sunday Times reported that an investigation has discovered that a Gupta mine failed a coal quality test four times before landing the multibillion-rand deal on the fifth attempt.

In a press statement, Howa lashed out at the publication, insisting that their article and editors comments confirmed the adage that “one should not let the facts get in the way of publishing a good story”.

“Today’s editor’s comment makes very serious factual errors in its attempt to link the Gupta family to the Presidency.”

Read also: Gupta family welcomes probe into Eskom coal deal worth R400m

“It claims one of the President’s wives is employed within the group. None of the President’s wives are currently employed by the group.

“It states as fact that the Gupta’s paid for the house of the President’s wife when this is factually untrue.

“It states “two of Zuma’s children have big jobs with Gupta firms” which is again, factually untrue

It claims we are supplying Eskom with sub-standard coal – again, the daily testing at Eskom-controlled labs will prove this to be untrue. The discrepancy in quality only came up in August 2015, despite daily testing.

Howa went on to say that the lead story had “little reference” to fact.

“The Sunday Times again tries to place the Gupta family in the middle of its reporting. Oakbay Investments, the family’s primary vehicle, holds less than 50% of the shareholding in Tegeta. So to place the Gupta’s in the headline is once again mischievous and misleading.”

“It is also worth noting that Oakbay is run by a team of competent and professional managers.  It is insulting and demeaning to the Oakbay management team or that of any of its subsidiaries when media constantly refer to the family in the decision-making,” he said.


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