SA Banks Face Lawsuits Over Steinhoff

The Dutch Investors’ Association (VEB), which launched legal proceedings against Steinhoff International in January, has notified the three banks involved in Steinhoff’s Frankfurt listing that it is holding them liable for damages incurred by Steinhoff shareholders. The move by VEB stems from the role played by Absa, Barclays and Commerzbank in Steinhoff’s listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in November 2015.

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Shoprite And Checkers Will Offer Students 10% Discounts

Shoprite and Checkers announced that registered South African students can get 10% off at any Shoprite and Checkers stores starting next week Wednesday the 25th of April 2018. The student discount is valid for four days per month until the end of October, for all purchases up to a maximum of R1,500.

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Eskom Facing Coal Shortages

Seven Eskom power stations have coal stockpiles that are lower than the levels required‚ Parliament heard on Wednesday. Urgent authorisation had to be obtained from the Treasury to purchase more coal without having to go to tender‚ acting group executive for transmission Willie Majola told members of Parliament’s public enterprises committee. A recovery plan was in place and coal was also being moved from stations that had healthy stockpiles to stations that did not have sufficient stock.

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Andile Mazwai Resigns As Rebosis CEO

Rebosis Property Fund said on Wednesday its CEO, Andile Mazwai, had resigned and the firm would postpone the release of its interim financial results, sending shares down more than 10%. The company said in a statement its current Executive Deputy Chairman Sisa Ngebulana would be appointed as the interim CEO.

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Mark Lamberti Quits As Imperial CEO

Mark Lamberti has resigned as Imperial CEO‚ following an adverse judgment in the case brought by fired employee Adila Chowan‚ whom he called a “female employment equity candidate”. Imperial has promoted its chief financial officer‚ Osman Arbee‚ to succeed Lamberti as CEO on May 1.

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Audi And Porsche Raided Over Emissions Scandal

Porsche is the latest Volkswagen brand to be sucked into the ongoing diesel emissions cheating scandal that first erupted three years ago. German police and prosecutors raided a number of Audi and Porsche properties on Wednesday in search of documents as part of an investigation into two top Porsche executives and one former employee.

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Facebook Data Breach Affected 100,000 South Africans

Facebook has told SA’s information regulator that almost 100,000 people in the country were affected by its data leak — far more than estimated. Last week the information regulator said it would “proactively and voluntarily engage Facebook with regards to the alleged data breach”, and that it would ask the company to clarify the extent of the data leak and to state what corrective measures it was taking. This was after the personal information of about 87-million Facebook users – mostly in the US — was misused by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that obtained the data from a personality app.

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KPMG & Nkonki Fired By Auditor General

The auditor-general’s decision to terminate auditing contracts with KPMG will see the embattled audit firm excluded from doing any work for the country’s most valuable client. The auditor-general has control over auditing contracts that dwarf even the largest private-sector business. This is the first time it has terminated work with one of the big four audit firms. Also terminated is black-owned Nkonki, which has been implicated in Gupta-related controversies.

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Eskom Hits Optimum Coal With R105m Fine

Eskom has issued the Gupta-owned Optimum with a R105m fine for failing to deliver coal, which has spurred a supply shortage at the power utility. As Eskom grappled with the issue, alternative coal producers would benefit from a shortage of coal and come to the rescue of the power utility, as it sought to plug a gap in supplies at several of its stations.

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Bus Strike Causes Havoc

Thousands of commuters will wake up on Wednesday to the nationwide bus strike that is set to kick off at 05:30 while taxi and rail operators are bracing for crowds and long queues. Nationwide bus services such as MyCiTi in Cape Town, Putco, Rea Vaya and Gautrain bus service in Gauteng and Algoa Bus Company in the Port Elizabeth area are among those whose services will be suspended.

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Irregular Health Expenses Soar To R1.02 Billion

The Finance and Fiscal Commission (FFC) has criticised the national Department of Health for not doing more to ensure provincial health departments improve their audit outcomes. While provincial audit outcomes have improved since 2012-13, the pace of improvement has been slow, particularly over the past three years, the FFC’s provincial budget analysis manager Ghalieb Dawood told Parliament on Tuesday.

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Amazon Launches International Shopping

Amazon has launched its International Shopping experience in the Amazon Shopping App. International customers can now “browse and shop over 45 million eligible items that can be shipped to their country from the United States”, said Amazon. Customers can also choose from different shipping options and delivery speeds, depending on how quickly they want their package, it added.

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Cyrils Lions Go Investment Hunting

President Cyril Ramaphosa is hoping a revitalised relationship between business and the government would enable SA to raise $100bn worth of investment over five years. On Monday he announced the appointment of special investment envoys to work at convincing investors of SA’s potential. They are former finance minister Trevor Manuel, former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and business representatives Jacko Maree and Phumzile Langeni.

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Molefe In Court To Fight Pension Repayment Order

The High Court in Pretoria is on Tuesday expected to hear arguments in the appeal application brought by former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe. Molefe wants the court to overturn a January ruling by the full bench of the court that ordered him to repay R11m in pension payments, which had been unlawfully paid to him by the Eskom Pension Fund.

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Gupta’s Saxonwald Compound Raided Again

The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) has moved to seize cars, aircraft and properties worth at least R250m belonging to the Guptas and their associates, allegedly bought with looted state funds. Assets include the Guptas’ elusive Bombardier jet, which landed at Lanseria airport on Friday after Export Development Canada (EDC), the Canadian bank that financed it, went to court to have it grounded.

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VBS’s Audited Statements Withdrawn

In another blow to two of the country’s top four audit firms, the curator of Venda Building Society Mutual Bank, Anoosh Rooplal, has announced the withdrawal of the bank’s 2017 audited financial statements. PwC was the internal auditor and KPMG the external auditor for the 2017 financial statements. Rooplal said the financial statements were withdrawn because “they contain material misstatements and are no longer considered to be reliable”.

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41c Hike Expected In May Petrol Price

On the current data, petrol is set for a rise of 41 cents a litre, diesel 48 cents, and illuminating paraffin 38 cents. In all of these increases, the movement in the exchange rate accounts for just four cents of the rise. Petroleum prices were largely flat in the first week of April, but spiked sharply as tensions escalated in Syria. The Middle East lies near many of the world’s key oil producers, and petroleum prices have historically been sensitive to instability in the region.

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Musks Boring Company Gets Hyperloop Funding

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. raised $113 million in equity to dig tunnels and develop a high-speed transportation system known as the hyperloop. The startup disclosed the investment in a U.S. securities filing on Monday. The financing round included 31 unnamed investors, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission document. More than 90 percent of financing came from Musk, and the rest from early employees, the Boring Co. said, adding that no venture capitalists or outside investors participated.

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Possible Criminal Record For Not Declaring Taxes

Taxpayers who do not submit their tax returns will end up with a criminal record, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) said on Monday. In its statement, the revenue service said it had embarked on a new initiative with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to prosecute non-compliant taxpayers, including prominent South Africans, who have failed to submit returns.

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Supra’s Son’s R1.1M Bursary

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo and Denel CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe are facing a backlash over revelations that the premier’s son got a R1.1-million bursary to become a pilot. Rapport newspaper revealed at the weekend that the state-owned armaments company‚ forced recently to borrow money to pay salaries‚ had “bent the rules” to award the bursary. Ntshepe‚ according to the newspaper‚ personally signed the contract. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan described the allegations as serious and asked the newly appointed Denel board to institute an internal investigation

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Anglogold CEO Venkatakrishnan Resigns

CEO Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan has resigned, the company announced on Monday. Venkatakrishnan leaves after 18 years at the company, the last five as CEO, to become chief executive of Vedanta Resources. Vedanta is a London Stock Exchange-listed, diversified natural resources firm, with interests zinc, lead, silver, copper, iron ore, aluminium as well as oil and gas.

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207 US Eggs Recalled Over Massive Salmonella Outbreak

About 207 million eggs supplied by a US farm are being recalled after more than 20 consumers became ill from suspected salmonella poisoning. The eggs from a Rose Acre Farms facility in Hyde County, North Carolina, may be contaminated with a form of salmonella, which can cause serious infection, the US Food and Drug Administration said in a statement.

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IRBA Considers Forcing Audit Firms To Split

The South African audit profession’s watchdog is considering forcing firms to split their audit and advisory arms in an effort to enhance their independence and improve audit quality. With auditors embroiled in a rising number of scandals globally and at home, the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (Irba) was weighing up the benefits of creating “audit-only” firms, Irba CEO Bernard Agulhas said.

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Nkonki CEO Quits Over Gupta Scanalds

Nkonki CEO Mitesh Patel resigned this week after amaBhungane revealed that his R107m “management buyout” of the pioneering black auditing firm 18 months ago was funded by Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa. The investigative journalists reported that Patel did not elaborate on his reasons for going‚ but his acting replacement‚ Thuto Masasa‚ said in response to questions: “Mr Patel tendered his resignation as the CEO of Nkonki as a result of very serious and damaging allegations published in the media in particular regarding his relationship with Mr Salim Essa‚ Trillian and Gupta linked entities.”

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Fight Over Grounded Gupta Jet

The Guptas have returned their Bombardier jet to SA after the Canadian bank that financed the aircraft asked the court to hold them in contempt for failing to deliver the aircraft on time. The jet flew from Dubai on Friday and landed at Lanseria Airport. It was handed over for storage to Execujet, a maintenance company contracted by Export Development Canada (EDC), pending the outcome of legal proceedings in SA and the UK. The Guptas had applied for leave to appeal against an order handed down by Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane on March 19 compelling them to return the jet to Lanseria by April 3 or face having it deregistered by the Civil Aviation Authority, which would have meant it could no longer be flown.

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Oil Could Hit $80 A Barrel Over Possible Iran Sanctions

Brent oil could spike to $80 a barrel if the US and European Union reimpose sanctions on Iran – and as Western powers expand the scope of the Syrian civil war. A possible decision in May on Iran sanctions may be the start of a process that maintains low-intensity stress on oil markets that can deliver higher prices and above-average volatility

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Steinhoff Paid Wiese €325m Before Collapse

On Tuesday, Steinhoff stunned investors and corporate governance analysts when it confirmed media reports that the company had prepaid Wiese €325m during October and November 2017 for Shoprite shares, just weeks before Steinhoff collapsed. Unlike South African company law, there is no provision in the Dutch law requiring oversight of the provision of loans or financial assistance to directors. Section 45 of the South African Companies Act requires a board resolution and also requires that shareholders agree to any payments made to directors.

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KPMG Under Fire Over VBS Scandal

KPMG has suspended one of its top executives who was the lead partner on VBS Mutual Bank which has been accused of severe mismanagement and fraud. The South African Reserve Bank has red flagged the bank, saying that nearly R1 billion cannot be accounted for. KPMG has now taken action against Sipho Malaba who signed off the independent auditors’ report on the bank’s accounts until July 2017

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McKinsey & Trillian To Repay Eskom

Global consulting firm McKinsey and Gupta-associated Trillian Capital Partners have both agreed to repay the R1.6bn they received from Eskom and will not oppose Eskom’s court application to get them to pay back the money.

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JSE Pulls Sagarmatha Listing

Sagarmatha’s failure to submit its annual financial statements to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) was behind the JSE’s decision not to allow it to go ahead with a proposed listing on Friday. On Wednesday, the company was due to announce the results of a private placement ahead of the Friday listing. However, instead of this announcement, shortly after 6pm the company released a Sens statement, saying that the JSE had decided the listing could not go ahead.

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Facebook To Incentivise Whistleblowers

Facebook yesterday launched a data abuse bounty program to incentivise anyone who can prove the misuse of Facebook data. In an effort to clean up its tattered reputation, the online social media company which has been criticised for its data breach and exposed the information of millions of Facebook users has launched a bounty program.

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Burgh Group To Run Gupta Mines

South Africa’s Burgh Group Holdings won a temporary contract to keep mines linked to the Gupta family afloat, according to a business-rescue manager for the assets. Other parties offered financing, but Burgh “came without conditions,” Louis Klopper, a bankruptcy-proceedings manager at Coronado Consulting Group, said Wednesday. Burgh is “an ideal partner” to provide technical expertise and banking facilities, he said, without disclosing financial terms.

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Zuma To Make First Court Appearance

Almost 11 years after he was first served an indictment in the graft case against him, former president Jacob Zuma will finally have his day in court on Friday when he appears in the High Court in Durban. Zuma is facing 16 charges — one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud.

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Steinhoff Drops Director Bonuses Plans

Steinhoff International Holdings NV shelved a plan to pay director bonuses after lawmakers questioned whether it was appropriate to release extra funds given the retailer has lost more than 90% of its market value amid an accounting scandal. The owner of Conforama in France and Mattress Firm in the US was planning to ask shareholders to approve payouts to board members including Chairman Heather Sonn as a reward for their work trying to keep the company afloat.

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Unpaid Etolls Now Valued At R9.2 Billion

President Cyril Ramaphosa has taken charge of Gauteng’s e-toll headache, bringing hope that the impasse between motorists and the provincial government could soon be resolved. In November 2017, motorists in the province owed R9.2bn. Motorists claim the funding model was not adequately canvassed and the levy will further impoverish poor workers. Gauteng Premier David Makhura in February conceded that the highly contested e-tolls system was a failure. He said a new model was needed to fund road development.

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Consol Glass To relist On JSE

Glass packaging manufacturer Consol Holdings on Thursday announced its intention to list its issued ordinary shares on the main board of the JSE. Consol, which provides glass packaging products to customers in a variety of industries including beer, wine, flavoured alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic beverages, spirits and food, said it expects to be listed in the Industrials: Containers and Packaging sector of the JSE.

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Govt Wage Bill Now At R587 Billion

Government’s public wage bill has become so big, that it’s fast becoming the single-biggest problem in the budget – siphoning funding from other vital functions, like service delivery. As it stands, the government wage bill is almost a full third of the annual budget, sitting at R587 billion. National Treasury has warned that the size of the public sector wage bill needed to be reined in as departments were starting to hit their “compensation ceilings”, noting further that public sector wages had increased 10.3% annually since 2009, significantly higher than the rate of inflation.

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Sappi Signs Govt Power Plant Deal

Sappi has signed an agreement with the Department of Energy to build a renewable energy plant at its mill in Mpumalanga. Sappi and consortium partners KC Africa and African Rainbow Energy and Power would spend a combined R1.8bn on a 25MW biomass energy unit at the company’s Ngodwana mill, said Sappi Southern Africa CEO Alex Thiel. Sappi will have a 30% stake in the facility, which is expected to contribute to the national grid from July 2020.

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Courts Back Chamber Of Mines on Empowerment

South African mining companies aren’t required to top up black ownership levels if they’ve previously met the minimum requirements, a court ruled Wednesday. The decision is a victory for the Chamber of Mines, a lobby representing most producers, which sought a declaratory order on the so-called “once empowered, always empowered” principle. It may also have implications for discussions over a new Mining Charter between the industry and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.

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Govt Signs IPP Deals

South African Energy Minister Jeff Radebe signed agreements with 27 independent power producers after more than two years of delays. The deals promise to revive the nation’s renewable-energy program that was once the world’s fastest growing, but has floundered amid the delays. The projects being signed will release 56 billion rand ($4.7 billion) of investments over the next two to three years, Radebe said.

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Icasa To Open Up PayTV Market

MultiChoice’s grip on the pay-TV market could soon be loosened after a proposal by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to introduce shared sports rights and shorten exclusive contract periods. MultiChoice is dominating the market courtesy of exclusive contracts to broadcast football, particularly the popular English Premier League — one of the most-watched leagues in the world. Icasa’s proposals are a bid to break MultiChoice’s monopoly on pay-TV and facilitate entry to new players.

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China Threatens US With Tariff Increases

China responded to President Donald Trump’s new tariffs by threatening tariffs of its own on 106 U.S. products, including on soybeans, cars and some airplanes, in the latest escalation of what risks becoming a tit-for-tat trade war between the world’s two largest economies. The plan, which was announced on Wednesday, would see Beijing slap 25% levies on a range of U.S. goods worth about $50 billion. Chinese officials did not set a date for implementation, saying what happens next will depend on whether the U.S. president pushes ahead with his tariff plans.

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