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DETAILS SOUGHT IN EL CASINO LICENCE ROW

Here’s the deal: Court action looms if everything used in the bids is not released for close scrutiny

THE province’s gambling bosses have been given an ultimatum to disclose details of how they awarded the East London casino licence or face court action.

The gloves are now off in the gambiling war after the threat by attorney Steve Gough of PE-based Kushmere Noach Attorneys – acting on behalf of losing bidders Ubukhosi Leisure – was contained in a -January 27 letter to the Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Board (ECGBB).

Gough’s letter followed an earlier statement by Ubukhosi Leisure’s Avril Kaschula, whose group lost the bid for the casino licence awarded last year to Tsogo Sun, owners of the Hemingways I asino. Kaschula said alter the removal of the gambling board members by Economic Affairs ME( Mcebisi Jonas in December that his group may lodge a high court application if the licence application process was not reviewed.

Jonas’s decision to replace the board was based on a forensic report by auditors Ernst and Young and legal opinion from labour law expert, advocate Rayne Wade, SC The forensic auditors Investigated the circumstances surrounding the board’s appointment of Chief executive Mabutho/wane.

Ubukhosi Leisure now insists that the board – in terms of the Promotion of Administration Justice Act (Paja) – furnishes it with the scorecards of the board members who renewed Tsogo Sun’s licence.

The losing group also wants the minutes and transcripts of any bidders’ meetings; details of the Tsogo Sun bid; transcripts of public hearings; the board’s investigation reports into the bidders; and a transcript of the board’s deliberations.

Ubukhosi Leisure wants to see all correspondence between the board and the bidders, as well as the terms and condition upon winch the award to Tsogo Sun has been based.

Zwane confirmed to Weekend Post that Ubukhosi Leisure’s request had been received. He said the board was considering it “and we will respond in due course through its attorneys.”

But the board earlier told Ubukhosi Leisure that its request was premature as the licence had not been issued. The document is with Jonas’s office, which still has nol ratified the board’s decision.

Kaschula tis week said it would be too late for his group to study the documents it had requested once the licence had been issued to Tsogo Sun.

In his letter Gough said Ubukhosi Leisure had a direct and material interest in the award of the licence to Tsogo Sun.

He said on review of the Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Act it appeared the award of the licence constituted “administration action envisaged by the provisions of l’aja, and that the board was “compelled upon request to provide written reasons to any person or entity materially affected hv the decision”.

“The decision … adversely affected Ubukhosi Leisure,” he added He gave the board until next Thursday to comply with Ubukhosi Leisure’s request “failing which our client will pursue judicial remedies” to compel the board to do so.

“We have a right to see the documents,” Kaschula said.

Gough also represents Elonwabeni Resorts and Its sister company, Ekuphumleni Resorts, which in July last year won a legal battle against the board after the Grahamstown High Court ordered it to immediately award the zone licence to Elonwabeni This followed after the gambling board awarded the Mthatha casino licence to Peermont Global Mthatha three years ago. which Elonwabeni claimed was an “irrational”, “biased” and “unfair” decision.

Source: WEEKEND POST – EDDIE BOTHA