Businesswoman Khumoetsile Moetse has supported fronting claims by TV presenter Thabang Masanabo and her company, Thape Media, in a R50 million Absa-funded BEE supplier development enterprise.
The businesswoman said her company Inure Investments dumped Gravitate MultiVideo Content (MVC) minority shareholders’ deal after she was asked to pay R4 million for a 51% shareholding in the company and to inherit historic liabilities of the company.
“It is not only fronting that was an issue for me …It was a very complicated and very expensive deal and there were constant rumours within the bank [Absa] of this being a fraud for some time,” said Moetse in a WhatsApp response.
She said she found out that all the previous black partners had walked away from the deal and some were forced out after money was released using their BEE credentials.
Cherry Moon, a company owned by TV personality and businesswoman Minnie Dlamini, her husband Quinton Jones, and businessman Gugu Madlala was also part of the Gravitate deal as 51% shareholders, but they left the deal just after eight months and were bought out of the company for R1.2-million by the minority shareholders.
Moetse said she was also advised by some people in the bank to walk away from the deal.
According to correspondence dated January 19 2019 between Inure, minority shareholder David Mortimer and an Absa representative, Moetse raised concerns about the structure of the deal and a lack of transparency and disclosures by the minority shareholders.
Khumoetsile Moetse says she was advised by some people in the bank to walk away from the deal with Gravitate.
Moetse terminated the deal after she said Mortimer Harvey, a company owned by the mi- nority shareholders Mortimer, Gerald Harvey and Denys Webb, did not respond to different legal agreements her company had sent them, suggesting new terms to their agreements.
In the same email, Moetse said she and her company had terminated the deal after they were subjected to anti-competitive, anti-transformation behaviour and endless demands by Mortimer Harvey to buy Gravitate MVC for R4million and to take over its historic liabilities.
Moetse accused Mortimer of trying to discredit her and prevent her from doing business with Absa.
“I am certainly not the right black partner to front this deal for Gravitate. I am a seasoned entrepreneur who is committed to building a clean and sustainable business with the right partners and financial support,” reads her e-mail.
Speaking for the minority shareholders, Mortimer denied the fronting claims. He said the deal with Inure In- vestments collapsed because the company wanted to change their agreements by introducing new terms offering to buy the company shares for R1 instead of the agreed-upon R1.2-million.
He said Inure sent them a new shareholders’ agreement offering to buy the whole company and all its assets for R1 and, as a result, all negotiations stopped.
Mortimer said during the same time, a complaint was registered with the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Commission through an anonymous tip- off alleging that their Absa deal, through Gravitate, did not comply with empowerment codes.
Absa spokesperson Phumza Macanda said the bank was aware of the disputes between Gravitate MVC shareholders, stating that the issues were discussed at a meeting in March.
She said the parties had agreed at that meeting that Gravitate would continue rendering services to the bank pending an independent investigation by the bank, but this had been delayed by the lockdown.
About Inure, Macanda said the bank was told the parties could not reach a deal