Drama in court as Rautenbach gets litigation papers

JOHANNESBURG – There was drama in court as Zimbabwe Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s business partner Billy Rautenbach got an unpleasant surprise when he was served with civil litigation papers for a different lawsuit.\r\n

Billy Rautenbach was at the High Court in Johannesburg to testify in the Jackie Selebi trail on Thursday, and last night the lawyers who served him with litigation papers were making frantic effort to stop him leave the country and seeking a court order for a remand in prison.

Before proceedings began in the former South African police commissioner’s corruption case, lawyers arrived at courtroom 4B saying they wanted to serve Rautenbach with legal papers.

The state reacted angrily, telling the lawyers that Rautenbach was set to testify in the case.

After Rautenbach, dressed in a grey suit, finished his testimony, court adjourned for tea. While the lawyers and curious journalists waited outside courtroom 4B, Rautenbach went into a side room.

After some negotiation, his spokeswoman told journalists he had been served with unrelated civil litigation.

"Mr Rautenbach has just been served civil litigation related to the affairs of the Hyundai group," Madelain Roscher said.

"There is no link between the criminal [now resolved fraud] case and the civil case."

Ex-Hyundai boss and mining magnate, Rautenbach recently reached a R40 million plea agreement with the authorities on 326 charges of fraud. He fled South Africa in 1999 when his Botswana-based Hyundai Motor Distributors collapsed.

Rautenbach is also a major shareholder in the Central African Mining and Exploration Company, CAMEC, a company linked to Zimbabwe Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Earlier, while on the stand, Rautenbach testified of a meeting in Johannesburg between his lawyer James Tidmarsh, convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti and Selebi about investigations against Rautenbach.

Agliotti has testified that Rautenbach paid him US$100,000 (about R743,500) as an alleged bribe for Selebi to assist him with his run-ins with the law.

At the time, Agliotti asked for a R1 million fee for access to Selebi. Rautenbach said he felt this was exorbitant and declined, the court heard.

"The meeting took place on 19 April, 2005. After the meeting, Tidmarsh came to the DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo] where I was. He came to greet me and said he met the commissioner of police and they discussed my case.

"[Tidmarsh told me that] obviously Agliotti had the contacts and maybe this is a way of taking this thing forward."

Rautenbach said he then made a payment of US$100,000 to Agliotti in an airport parking lot.

"We believed he had the necessary contact to get my case resolved. He was obviously connected."

Rautenbach testified that at one stage his lawyer James Ramsey met with officials of former prosecutions head Bulelani Ncguka’s office, but the issues discussed did not relate to his tax or Hyundai issues.

"His people were trying to gather intelligence about Zimbabwe and the DRC."

He said some of this was about mining, but also related to the bank accounts of officials and who was behind the companies.

Allegations Ncguka tried to obtain a bribe from him were untrue.

"There was no bribe whatsoever," he said.

Earlier as Rautenbach sat waiting to testify, he turned and nodded at Selebi.

Also on the witness stand on Thursday was Superintendent Adriaan Jacobus Nel who was involved in covert police operations along with police informer Paul Stemmet.

He testified that Stemmet asked for Agliotti to share reward money he got for providing information leading to a drug bust.

Court adjourned until Friday after prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the next two witnesses were unwilling, and he needed time to discuss the matter with their legal teams.

Selebi is being tried on a count of corruption and another of defeating the ends of justice in connection with at least R1.2 million he allegedly received from Agliotti, Rautenbach and others in return for favours.

In October, 2009 the controversial businessman Billy Rautenbach and his associate Zimbabwe Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa suffered a major set back when the UK government stopped a transfer of their shares in CAMEC to an Israel company ENRC.

Billy Rautenbach cannot tender his shares to Eurasian Natural Resources Corp’s (ENRC) $1-billion takeover bid for Central African Mining and Exploration Co (Camec) until he gets permission from the UK Treasury due to sanctions on Camec’s controversial shareholder, it was reported.

The Zimbabwean businessman paid a $5-million fine to settle a ten-year legal battle in South Africa last month, which allowed him to travel there again, but he is still subject to sanctions in the European Union and USA for his alleged links to Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe.

Those sanctions will prevent him selling shares worth almost $70 million until the UK Treasury gives the go ahead, MB understands.

Any transfer of assets and/or funds within the UK that are owned by anyone under sanction would need to be approved by the Treasury’s asset freezing unit. Anyone listed…

The State controlled Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation controversially declared that CAMEC, holds the legitimate mineral rights to the disputed Bougai and platinum reserves.

Central African Mining and Exploration Company, an associate shareholder in Todal Mining, holds the legitimate mineral rights to the disputed Bougai and platinum reserves, near Gweru, along Zimbabwe’s Great Dyke mineral belt.

Camec was founded and run by former England test cricketer Phil Edmonds, who has a number of other African interests in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as other interests in Mozambique, Mali and Zimbabwe.

In September 2009, an Israel company Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), a London-based Kazakh miner, claimed that it had agreed to buy Camec, for as much as £584m.

There is a reported legal dispute simmering between CAMEC, 60 percent shareholder in Todal Investments, and Kameni, a shadowy unlisted mining company based in South Africa.

Sources said, Kameni is backed by another rival Zanu PF faction headed by General Solomon Mujuru.

The State enterprise, ZMDC, the original holder of rights to the mineral reserves before a partnership with Lesever, now controls 40 percent of Todal while Lesever, owned by CAMEC, holds the remaining 60 percent.

CAMEC said it paid over US$205 million in cash and shares for its stake in Todal.

Foreign companies with operations in Zimbabwe include Angloplat, Implats and Rio Tinto, majority owner in the country’s biggest diamond mine.

In 2008, Kameni widely advertised that it controlled Bougai. In its marketing messages, Kameni claimed that its subsidiary Mid-Ma Platinum, 74,9 percent held by Pomachan, a 100 percent subsidiary of Kameni, holds Bougai.

In December 2008 Kameni announced plans to raise R6,5 billion (about US$630 million) on the Johannesburg bourse, by mid-2010, "the funds being intended to build platinum and chrome mines in South Africa and Zimbabwe".

Early this year, Kameni further announced that "it had raised R300 million — its minimum capital raising requirement, in seed capital raising to fund its exploration programme in South Africa and Zimbabwe".

Kameni advised further that its "two major assets — the near-surface PGM (platinum group metal) Kalkfontein Project in South Africa and the surface PGM and chrome Bougai Project in Zimbabwe — lend themselves to rapid exploration, development and cash-generating mining".

However, ZMDC chief executive Dominic Mubaiwa said the issue of Bougai platinum reserves was not just about recognising who owns the Bougai platinum, but was about who holds legitimate rights to the minerals.

"It is not a question of recognising who owns the mineral. It is very clear who has the mining title to the properties. ZMDC went into a joint venture with Todal, based on the mineral rights held by ZMDC (over Bougai).

"The mineral rights to Bougai and Kironde are held by Todal through a joint venture with Lesever, which is owned by CAMEC," said Mr Mubaiwa.

Contacted for comment on the dispute over Bougai Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu said there was only one legitimate holder of the mining title to the disputed assets, but declined to say who that was.

"The ministry knows who the legitimate owner of the mineral rights is and those with disputes should come to Government for solutions," said Minister Mpofu.

Kameni has reportedly insisted that it is the rightful owner of the Bougai platinum reserves and also claimed that it has supporting documentation.

Kameni, in its capital raising marketing campaigns has repeatedly stated that it controls the Bougai platinum reserves.

Despite a full-blown dispute in the background, Kameni’s seed raising continued.

Late last year Todal’s managing director Mr Walter Shamu wrote to the mining commissioner, Gweru, expressing alarm that Kameni’s Mid-Ma was apparently claiming rights "over mining claims already granted to Todal".

Kameni has claimed in the media that Bougai was sold twice adding that: "as we have said to you at least twice now, the matter has been referred back to the appropriate authority, the Zimbabwean Ministry of Mines, for clarification and Kameni is confident of an outcome in its favour".

"Mr Rautenbach and Emmerson Mnangagwa have amassed a large number of mineral and other assets in the DRC during the civil war and subsequently.