FinanceProfit & Loss

South African Gupta-linked firm liquidated over debt, sources say

A South African mining contractor owned by the Gupta family has been put into liquidation, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Westdawn Investments, which does business as JIC Mining Services (Pty) Ltd., has debt of almost 60 million rand ($4.2 million), said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The company received a liquidation letter on Friday from a liquidator appointed by the High Court, they said. Kal Tire Mining, which JIC owes 900,000 rand, brought the application, the people said.

About 800 people stand to lose their jobs and Chief Executive Officer Jagannath Arora will leave the country to return to India, said one of the people.

In 2017, JIC did work on the Maseve concentrator plant, which belonged to Platinum Group Metals Ltd. at the time. The producer of the precious metal paid for the services, but JIC’s suppliers and debtors have not been reimbursed, the people said.

JIC’s parent company, Oakbay Investments, is also setting up new offices and will trade as MJ Mining, said the people. Members of the Gupta family, who had close ties with former South African President Jacob Zuma, have resigned from management positions in the companies they control. That followed a wave of controversy surrounding allegations of improper influence over certain politicians and deals. The Guptas have denied wrongdoing.

The number for Westdawn’s office didn’t connect and the company hasn’t responded to an email seeking comment. Oakbay’s contact number was also out of service. The liquidator could not be reached for comment. Lawyers representing the Gupta family, didn’t respond to emailed questions.

The Guptas became a household name in South Africa in 2013 after accusations that they’d
exploited their political connections to land an aircraft bringing wedding guests from India at a high-security military base near the capital. The nation’s anti-graft ombudsman found that they used their links to Zuma to secure contracts and deals from state companies including coal supply agreements with power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.

By Loni Prinsloo

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