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Ajay Gupta denies meeting with Martins

Ajay Gupta.
Ajay Gupta.

Ajay Gupta has denied a "malicious" claim that he was present at a meeting earlier this year at which Deputy Minister pf Public Enterprises Ben Martins was present.

The controversial businessman made the remarks in an unsigned lawyer's letter from Goitseona Pilane Attorneys‚ sent to the parliamentary inquiry into state capture.

In the letter‚ Gupta accuses suspended Eskom legal boss Suzanne Daniels of lying under oath about the meeting‚ and he threatens to report her to the police and Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete.

Daniels had told the inquiry that she attended a meeting with Gupta‚ Salim Essa‚ Duduzane Zuma and Martins in Johannesburg on July 29 2017. She said they discussed matters related to former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and Gupta said he would contact the Deputy Judge President to ensure that Molefe's court hearing was held after December 2017.

The lawyer's letter was read out at a committee meeting on Tuesday‚ following a letter from Martins in which he also denied Daniels's allegation. Attached to the letter was a copy of a page of Gupta's passport‚ indicating that he was in India between July 23 and July 31. Also attached was a screenshot from a YouTube video clip‚ showing Gupta's presence at a religious festival on July 29.

"The claims made by Suzanne Daniels are clearly false‚" the lawyer said‚ adding that they were harmful to Gupta "and the country".

A second unsigned lawyer's letter‚ sent on November 30 by Gani Mayet Attorneys on behalf of Gupta‚ said he and the Gupta family had "been wrongfully implicated in wrongdoing directly or indirectly either individually or through family or business associations." The letter referred to Daniels's testimony and reiterated the contents of the first letter.

The letter said the allegations highlighted the need for the inquiry to exercise "extreme caution" in sifting facts and testing allegations and the need to provide all persons who are implicated by the inquiry the opportunity to respond to the allegations.

"Surprisingly despite a lapse of nearly six months during which adverse but false evidence concerning his 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 lawyer's letter said.

The letter asked the committee to furnish the Gupta family with a detailed list of questions within 10 working days of receipt of the letter‚ so he could respond in writing. If Gupta or any member of his family was required to appear before the committee‚ they requested a detailed list of questions two weeks before the scheduled appearance.

If the committee decided not to furnish a list of questions‚ the lawyer asked it to inform Gupta and furnish reasons for that decision.

African National Congress MP Zukile Luyenge noted that the committee had already stated its intention to call the three Gupta brothers.

"We want them to be here‚" he said but added that they could not dictate to the committee how it would function.

African Christian Democratic Party MP Steve Swart said it was not for Gupta or his lawyers to decide on what basis they would give evidence to the inquiry. There was no reason that the Guptas should be treated any differently from other witnesses.

Economic Freedom Fighters MP Marshall Dlamini said the Guptas were not entitled to any special treatment. ANC MP Mondli Gungubele said the letters were merely an attempt to disrupt the committee and divert it from its work.

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