A former business partner of Gupta associate Eric Wood has alleged in an affidavit that millions of rands were laundered through Wood and used to sponsor the South African of the Year Awards, run by the Gupta-owned The New Age newspaper. This money was allegedly also used to pay former African Union commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma the R250,000 first prize, which she won in 2015.
According to The Times, the R10 million allegedly spent on the event since November 2016 is now the subject of court action between Regiments Capital and one of its former directors and Wood.
Wood is the CEO of Trillian Capital Partners, reportedly owned by another Gupta associate, Salim Essa, and others. He was previously at Regiments.
The Times reported that the directors of Regiments laid charges at the Bramley police station related to money laundering to the tune of R15 million, which was allegedly paid to The New Age as sponsorship for the 2015 awards.
In one affidavit, a Regiments director alleges that R15 million was paid by Wood using fake invoices under the pretext that Regiments was placing adverts in The New Age newspaper.
In response, Trillian reportedly said:
"You will recall that the ongoing dispute between Eric Wood and his erstwhile Regiments partners, Niven Pillay and Litha Nyhonyha, is essentially a shareholder dispute. To pursue their own agenda, Niven Pillay and Litha Nyhonyha have sought to air their dispute in the press as a device to discredit Dr Wood, who has preferred to leave the matter in the hands of the judiciary."
A source who spoke to The Times said neither of the other directors of Regiments were invited to the South African of the Year Awards, nor was the company's name on any of the banners.
The source claimed the directors knew nothing of the event despite being a large sponsor.
"In fact there were no adverts placed by Regiments in The New Age," the source told The Times.
Dlamini-Zuma reportedly donated her cash prize to charity.
The New Age did not respond to The Times' inquiries.
* This story has been amended to reflect that Duduzane Zuma is not a shareholder in Trillian. Company spokesman Trevor Neethling says Trillian Capital Partners is 60 percent owned by Trillian Holdings (PTY) Ltd which is 100 percent owned by Mr Salim Essa (in his private capacity). Dr Eric Wood (through Zara Trust) owns 25 percent and the balance owned by various other staff members. Mr Tokyo Sexwale is an independent, non-executive chairman of the board. "
He adds that: "Mr Duduzane Zuma has no shareholding or other interest whatsoever in Trillian Holdings, Trillian Capital Partners or its subsidiaries. The shareholders' register has been made available for inspection by media [and is still available on request]".