Former Tegeta Exploration and Resources Director Ronica Ragavan, Pushpaveni Govender – a former trustee of Optimum Coal Mine, and Joel Raphela the former DDG in the Department of Mineral Resources, were arrested and appeared in the Randburg Magistrates’ Court Wednesday morning.
Ragavan and Govender are accused of fraud, forgery, uttering, perjury and money laundering of R107.5 million.
Allegations are that the accused irregularly withdrew mine rehabilitation funds from the trust accounts of Optimum Coal Mine and Koornfontein Mine in 2016.
The two former company trustees were granted bail of R20 000 each, while Raphela was rushed to hospital during court proceedings for medical attention.
The companies also charged and to be summoned at the next court appearance are Optimum Coal Mine, Koornfontein Mines and Tegeta Exploration and Resources.
In 2015 Gupta-owned Tegeta took control of Optimum Mine Rehabilitation Trust and the Koornfontein Rehabilitation Trust.
In terms of the sale agreement, the rehabilitation funds had to be converted into cash by 15 February 2016.
On 23 May 2016, R7.5 million was transferred from the Optimum Mine Rehabilitation Trust account at Standard Bank to Optimum Coal Mine.
The amount was used as part of the payment of R26.4 million to Klipbank Mining, which was not in accordance with the requirements of the trust, regardless of what the funds were used for.
Ragavan and Govender obtained R100 million from the Koorfontein Trust Account in June 2016, to act as surety for a loan in favour of Tegeta for the purchase of Optimum Coal Mine.
The Department of Mineral Resources had given consent in terms of section 11(1) of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) for the disposal of the 100% controlling interest held by Optimum Coal Holding in accordance to Optimum Mine and Koornfontein Mine to Tegeta for mining rights and prospecting rights.
According to the MPRDA, the Minister of Mineral Resources was expected to keep the rehabilitation funds to deal with rehabilitation and remediation of adverse environmental impact of prospecting, exploration and mining operations when a mine is sold off or closes.
The holder of the right or permit must ensure that the financial provision is equal to the amount of the actual costs of implementing the plans to rehabilitate the mine and environment for 10 years after the closure of the mine.
In this matter, the trustees, so cited in the case and company directors, are accused of orchestrating a scheme where they requested the funds held in the two rehab funds to be transferred into other current company accounts and used for purposes in breach of the Department of mineral resources rules.
Raphela as former DDG stands accused of authorising the funds to be released from the Koornfontein Mine Rehabilitation Trust.
The matter returns to court on 22 June 2022.