- Former SAA group treasurer, Cynthia Stimpel, testified before the state capture inquiry yesterday
- Stimpel claimed that the state-owned entity was run on dictates of ex-CEO Dudu Myeni and former president Jacob Zuma
- The ex-treasurer claims SAA was plagued by a culture of intimidation, with the pair fearlessly throwing their weight around in the running of the airline
The Zondo Commission heard testimony yesterday of how former SAA CEO Dudu Myeni crippled the state-owned entity.
Allegations were put forward that South African Airways was run on the whims of Myeni and 'Number One', as he was referred to - Jacob Zuma.
A R15 billion SAA loan was set aside for a particular 'client' by Zuma, granted by the Free State Development Corporation, reports The Citizen.
Demonstrating Zuma's influence, Cynthia Stimpel claimed that ex-CFO Wolf Meyer recorded a meeting with a potential funder, during which he was told the ex-president had wanted Jayendra Naidoo to bag the deal:
“Wolf was told they must ensure that SAA gives this client the deal because Number One wants this client to get the deal."
Despite having received the borrowing plan and a submission from Stimpel on debt consolidation, Myeni had written to Wolf, saying that the board had elected to withdraw the request for proposal for a long-term loan.
Later on, Sea Crest Investments had gotten involved, proposing that R15 billion would be lent to SAA, with a 5.8% interest rate.
The entity had found the company would not be directly providing the funds, with the majority coming from a company called Grissag. Grissag would be providing Sea Crest with the funds at a 4% interest rate, with Sea Crest pocketing the difference.
Stimpel explained how a safer option had been a loan from various banks, who had put R4.3 billion on the table.
The treasurer had expected the board to approve either of the two options, but both had been turned down:
“It was really unusual for me to see this. The board resolution recommended for us to go with funding from the Free State Development Corporation.”
In a letter penned by FDC CFO Shepherd Moyo, it was revealed that they were working with a foreign entity, offering the R15 billion at a lower interest rate. It had turned out that Grissag had been that foreign entity.
Stimpel claims that the board had recommended that SAA contract the FDC, based on the letter alone:
“I was extremely uncomfortable with it."
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