South Africa | Bosasa: Jared Watson accused of leaking evidence to Kevin Wakeford who tried to use it at Zondo inquiry

The liquidators for Bosasa have accused Gavin Watson's nephew, Jared, of leaking evidence from an ongoing secret and confidential inquiry into Bosasa to businessman Kevin Wakeford, who attempted to introduce it during his testimony at the Zondo Commission last week.

In a lawyer's letter addressed to the commission's chair, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the liquidators said they intended to apply to interdict any further disclosure of evidence from the secret inquiry. 

After Bosasa went into liquidation, a private and confidential insolvency inquiry was launched in terms of Section 417 of the Companies Act of 1973.

The inquiry is headed up by retired Judge Meyer Joffe and began its work in February 2020, and looked into the affairs of African Global Operations (Pty) Ltd and other Bosasa subsidiaries. 

"The liquidators' ongoing investigations into the affairs of Bosasa have revealed that a sophisticated scheme was employed within Bosasa so as to allow the true controllers of these corporate companies to channel the revenue generated by these companies into the pockets of certain select individuals designated as beneficiaries of the scheme," said the liquidators in the letter. 

Last week, Wakeford appeared before the commission to respond to testimony that implicated him as a facilitator and benefactor in some of Bosasa's untoward business dealings.

READ | Zondo Commission: Kevin Wakeford says Agrizzi was 'greedy and narcissistic'

He denied allegations by former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi that he negotiated a contract between Bosasa and the Department of Home Affairs.

During his testimony, he tried to introduce evidence from the secret inquiry, which he said would show that Agrizzi and former Bosasa chief financial officer Andries Van Tonder lied under oath and that he was falsely being implicated. 

Agrizzi's lawyers, who were at the commission, objected to this and questioned how Wakeford had obtained evidence that was presented at a secret inquiry. 

Wakeford's lawyers told the commission that the information had come from Jared, who is the current director of African Global Holdings and that a deputy master of the court had granted Watson consent to present the section 417 evidence to the Zondo Commission. 

Jared Watson

Jared Watson speaks at a memorial service for the late Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson, his uncle. (Screengrab)

But the liquidators said: "Mr Watson was not granted consent to disclose the evidence to Mr Wakeford, nor was Mr Wakeford granted permission to disclose the evidence to the commission. Mr Watson had already, on 3 May 2021, offered the section 417 evidence to Mr Wakeford's attorneys of record in writing, when he addressed the email attached hereto as annexure E to them.

READ | I didn't know Bosasa paid for my home security upgrades, Mantashe tells Zondo commission

"Mr Watson's entitlement to access to the record, subject to confidentiality undertakings, is in his capacity as a director of African Global Operations Proprietary Limited and for no other purpose.

"He certainly is not entitled to make it available to Mr Wakeford or other third parties, no matter how laudable his intentions may be. It must be emphasised that the transcript was made available to Mr Watson on his undertaking to maintain the confidence of the proceedings at the inquiry."

Jared Watson told News24 in response that "there is absolutely no truth to any such accusation" that he was not entitled to pass on the information.

He said: 

"Most importantly the question needs to be asked as to why Mr Agrizzi’s legal representatives would seek to prevent the Zondo Commission from having access to his evidence at the insolvency enquiry, if indeed Mr Agrizzi has nothing to hide and truly wishes to 'come clean' for his past transgressions, as he has previously stated."

The liquidators accused Wakeford of wanting to use the evidence for his own personal interest and said they were not interested in his "personal squabbles" with Agrizzi. 

"The evidence given by Mr Wakeford on 6 May 2021 leaves one in no doubt that he is motivated by personal interests calling Mr Agrizzi, among other things 'greedy', a 'racist' and a 'narcissist' and having 'fabricated lies' against him (Mr Wakeford). Mr Wakeford's character assassination of Mr Agrizzi (deserving or not) does not create a legitimate platform for him or Mr Watson to abuse the secrecy and confidentiality regime that applies to inquiries under sections 417 and 418 of the 1973 Act," they said. 

The liquidators said neither they nor the secret commission was made aware that a deputy master of the court was approached to seek consent. 

READ | Two former Bosasa employees in court for fraud

"The deputy master appears to have granted consent to Mr Watson to present the section 417 evidence to the Zondo Commission after the commissioner had refused to do so. It is unclear (but doubtful) whether the commissioner's prior refusal had been disclosed to the master when he was approached for his consent," they said.

After Wakeford's testimony, the liquidators, through their lawyers, wrote to Watson asking him to abandon the consent given to him in writing.

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