Why Nazeem Howa Quits Oakbay Investments


Today, October 17, Oakbay Investments announced the resignation of its chief executive officer Nazeem Howa with immediate effect.

The company that runs the South African business interests of the Guptas said in a statement that after a period of illness, Howa has stepped down from his duties at Oakbay due to health issues and on medical advice.

The announcement was the third in a series of statements Oakbay released on Monday in reaction to an explosive affidavit Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan submitted to court on Friday.

Oakbay Resources and Energy Limited [JSE:ORL]confirmed in a statement to shareholders earlier on Monday that five of its transactions are implicated in the list of 72 transactions reported to the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) mentioned in Gordhan’s affidavit.

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Oakbay Resources and Energy is one of the mining subsidiaries that falls under Oakbay Investments. The JSE-listed firm owns Shiva Uranium and the Brakfontein mine.

In a follow-up statement, Oakbay Investments said claims that R1.3bn was paid from the Optimum Rehabilitation Trust are “untrue” and “defamatory”.

In a statement, the group confirmed that “no monies” have been removed from the fund.

This follows reports over the weekend that transactions worth R6.8bn involving the Gupta family were featured in a court application filed by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. The FIC deemed these transactions, concluded between 2012 and June 2016, to be “suspicious” as they did not relate to legitimate business transactions.

Several pages of correspondence that had taken place between Howa and Gordhan were also included in the documents submitted to the court, among which was a letter of apology for attacking National Treasury.

Oakbay said Ronica Ragavan, the current financial director of Oakbay, will assume the role of acting CEO, while the company searches for a permanent successor.

‎Howa joined Oakbay in 2010.

Ragavan said in the statement that Howa has been a outstanding chief executive for Oakbay and embodied the company’s philosophy of hard work, innovative thinking, job creation and disruption where disruption creates value.

“We wish him the very best in his recovery.”

Howa said in the same statement it “has been an honour and a privilege to lead such a talented group of co-workers”.

“In time, Oakbay will be recognised as the type of company South Africa needs: innovative, job-creating, tax paying and law-abiding. I look forward to that day,” Howa said in a statement.

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