A DEFIANT Ajay Gupta has asked for an opportunity to clear his name following allegations levelled against him in the parliamentary inquiry into state capture.
This comes as Gupta, through his legal representative, Goitseone Pilane, denied the “malicious” allegation by the suspended head of legal and compliance at Eskom, Suzanne Daniels, that he was present, along with Salim Essa, Duduzane Zuma and Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises Dikobe Ben Martins, at a meeting on July 29 to discuss matters relating to a court case of former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe.
Gupta is now the second person, after Martins, to deny Daniels’ claims of attending the meeting. Martins has provided proof in pictures and from his diary that he was at the funeral of Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa, in Pretoria on the day of the claimed meeting, which supposedly took place at Melrose Arch.
Gupta provided his passport as proof that he was not at the supposed meeting. Pilane sent MPs a copy of Gupta’s passport, flight records and a screenshot of a YouTube video that apparently showed his client was attending a religious festival in India that day.
“Surprisingly, despite a lapse of nearly six months, during which adverse but false evidence concerning his (Gupta’s) conduct has mounted before the inquiry, no invitation has been forthcoming from the inquiry for the production of information to clarify or refute the allegations,” the letter from Pilane said.
“He has no recourse in law to protect his name and reputation because the proceedings are protected by parliamentary privilege,” the letter from the attorneys said.
Gupta, through his lawyer, also asked to be sent a detailed list of questions within 10 working days in a bid to respond in writing. Gupta also denied claims made by Daniels. “The claims made by Suzanne Daniels are clearly false.”
The committee is proceeding with testimony about allegations of the Guptas exerting undue influence over Eskom, its executives and board. The committee also welcomed Gupta’s move and agreed he should testify before the inquiry.
Gupta said should he be asked to testify, he would like to be furnished with questions at least two weeks in advance. On Tuesday, the committee accused suspended Eskom CFO Anoj Singh of obstructionist tactics by the inquiry. The chairperson of the inquiry, Zukiswa Rantho, said Singh was dismissed for failing to timeously submit crucial documents pertaining to the investigation.
Rantho said Singh submitted a 400- page document at the 11th hour, making it difficult for the committee to prepare. “We received documents of 400 pages last night at 11pm. We have not prepared anything because you have ensured we were not able to prepare,” Rantho said.
“We will not do justice as a committee as the documents came late. I want you to register our disappointment as a committee, as we informed you in July. “You have undermined the work of the committee,” she said. Rantho said Singh would now be called to testify during the course of next year.
“Mr Singh features prominently in the inquiry and such behaviour undermines the committee’s work. “Nonetheless, the committee resolved to continue with its work. The committee told Mr Singh that it wants to engage him on the allegations levelled against him and will call him to appear in 2018.”