SA Express to charge former execs with fraud and corruption

JOHANNESBURG, May 23 (ANA) - South African Express (SAX) said on Thursday it was preparing to lay fraud and corruption charges against some of its former executives.

The troubled state-owned airline continued to strengthen both its operational efficiency and governance systems to achieve long-term commercial sustainability.

In May 2018, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) revoked the airline's operating permits, effectively grounding all its planes after an audit at the airline and its maintenance organisation uncovered severe cases of non-compliance that pose serious safety risks.

An intervention team appointed by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan uncovered that due process had not been followed when the airline made a R5.7 million payment to Gupta-linked Trillian Capital for advisory services and the raising of capital and signed a R67 million-a-month fuel supply contract.

SAX chairperson, Tryphosa Ramano, said that the decision to charge the former executives came after a thorough forensic investigation had flagged a number of transactions which might have cost the airline millions of rand prior to SAX's temporary grounding in May 2018.

"The new board of directors of SA Express takes all allegations of impropriety by staff and other stakeholders of the airline very, very seriously," Ramano said.

"This is why the airline is taking this strong action because all allegations involving fraud, corruption and other irregularities demand a robust and prompt response, as well as the severest of sanctions against fingered parties."

The transactions that were flagged by the forensic investigation include multi-million rand cases of alleged collusion with service providers, manipulation of procurement processes, as well as irregular and overpayment of suppliers.

SAX said it woud not be commenting further on this issue, pending the action and legal processes that are under way.

Meanwhile, Ramano said the airline continued to drive its improved performance and strategic plans on the strength of five strategic pillars, with clear initiatives and outcomes.

“The five key pillars are anchored around good corporate governance, working to grow our revenue and to achieve profitability, engendering operational efficiency, improving our product offerings and services, and retaining and developing competent staff," she said.

- African News Agency (ANA)

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