Chairman of Switzerland-based Richemont Company, Johann Rupert has raised alarm over attempts by Gupta family’s UK-based public relations firm, Bell Pottinger, to implicate him in the state of capture report.
Rupert said he noticed of recent that certain fringe political commentators having been circulating stories that his R113bn investment giant company Remgro had captured key segments of the media.
The influential businessman insisted that neither he nor his family business has captured the state. He, however, admitted that he had contracted Bell Pottinger to work on its financially relationship and that the contract has since been terminated.
Speaking to the Remgro at an annual meeting on Thursday, Rupert said Richemont Company has never done any business with the state, neither did it capture the media.
“We have never done business with the state … ever. Firstly, I didn’t trust the previous bunch, and I don’t trust these guys. We have zero influence on the media or the [media] companies we are invested in. So it’s getting a little tedious,” Rupert said.
The business mogul lamented that he was often attacked from the right; stating that during apartheid he was labelled a “verraaier” [a betrayer].
“The attacks used to come from the right, now they come from the left. It’s not fun … and it’s steered by Bell Pottinger … I’m saying this publicly now. It is well known in the press about how well this campaign is orchestrated to protect a certain family and a certain individual,” he added.
Bell Pottinger executive Victoria Geoghegan has since debunked the allegations. The company maintained that the Gupta-controlled Oakbay Investments contracted it to handle external communications and corporate reputation and not to meddle in the affairs of Richemont.
Rupert is the chairman of Richemont, a luxury goods company based in Switzerland as well as Remgro, a company based in South Africa. He stepped down as the chief executive on March 31, 2012, after taking reins of the company in 2010.