• WP boss in hot water

    Western Province Rugby chief executive Paul Zacks is set to be suspended after ‘a number of adverse findings’ in the Section 417 final report pertaining to the liquidation of the union’s professional arm in 2016. JOHN GOLIATH reports.

    Zacks could even be pursued by the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA). He received a letter (that SA Rugby magazine is in possession of) via email on 4 December 2019 from the Western Province board and was given until Thursday, 12 December, to respond to ‘serious concerns/allegations of misconduct pertaining to evidence which you gave under oath during the Section 417 enquiry’.

    Zacks is currently still at work and performing his daily duties, but well-placed sources said that he is likely to be suspended before the end of the year.

    SA Rugby magazine approached WP Rugby for comment, but have yet to receive an official response.

    The Section 417 enquiry was initiated by Aerios – the company at the centre of a multimillion-rand advertising rights dispute with WP Rugby – in August 2017. Aerios laid fraud-related charges against WP’s board of directors over alleged non-presentation of the liquidated professional arm’s ‘statement of affairs’.

    An inquiry into the affairs of a bankrupt company can trace a company’s missing assets, or reveal misconduct by its directors.

    In December 2016, WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd successfully applied to the Western Cape High Court to be liquidated. Aerios had opposed the liquidation application by WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd, after claiming damages of more than R270-million from WP Rugby over alleged advertising rights violations.

    In a letter addressed to Zacks last week, the WP board highlights points from Judge Bertelsmann’s Section 417 final report that ‘contains a number of adverse findings’ and which states that Zacks’ testimony was ‘obviously untrue’.

    • “6. At paragraph 15.5 of the Final Report the learned Judge states the following in relation to you –
    • “6.1.1 The evidence was obviously untrue (i.e. your evidence that you were completely surprised by Mr Wakefield’s move to liquidate WPR on the morning of 7 November, and which you described as a ‘bolt out of the blue’.
    • “6.1.2 In your later evidence you testified, having admitted to the fact that you had been untruthful, that you gave your evidence ‘as an act of self-preservation’.
    • “6.1.3 This attempt to mislead the Enquiry should also be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration of taking appropriate steps, if so advised.
    • “6.2 At paragraph 1 under ‘Recommendations’ in page 47 of the Final Report – The learned judge says, inter alia, that your evidence should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration of taking appropriate steps, if so advised.
    • “6.3 These further steps may well entail charges of perjury relating to the untrue evidence given at the Section 417 Enquiry under oath.”

    In paragraph 6.4 the letter says ‘the union and the company do not intend to wait for the outcome of any referral to the Director of Public Prosecutions before it takes further action pursuant to the aforesaid and your evidence at the Section 417 Enquiry’.

    • “6.5 There are any number of possible allegations/charges that can be formulated in terms of the Western Province Rugby Personnel Policies and Procedures arising from the Final Report, such as, inter alia:
    • “6.5.1 Fraud – Knowingly giving false information (clause 3.11)
    • “6.5.2 Misrepresentation (clause 3.12)
    • “6.5.3 Dishonesty (clause 3.13)
    • “6.6 The above is not a close list. Further allegations and charges could possibly include the following – bringing the employer into disrepute, failing to act in the best interest of the employer etc.”

    In paragraph seven of the letter, it states that ‘there may be a complete breakdown in trust and confidence between you (as the CEO of the union and the company) and the union and the company’.

    *This is a developing story

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    John Goliath