Yengeni ‘Wanted Bigger Discount'
Businessman Michael Woerfel told the Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria this week that he was embarrassed when former ANC Chief Whip Tony Yengeni asked him for a 50% discount on a luxury car.
Woerfel, who pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud and corruption, said he had not wanted to refuse for fear that his good relationship with Yengeni would be "disturbed".
He had also acceded to Yengeni's request because he had thought it would be good for the general marketing image of his company if a prominent member of Parliament drove one of its cars.
Yengeni wanted a discount on the Mercedes-Benz ML320A, which had a retail price of R349 950 in 1998.
After making inquiries, Woerfel said, he told Yengeni he could buy the car for about R310 000.
"However, [Yengeni] asked for a very significant discount, and in fact asked to acquire the vehicle at half the retail price," said Woerfel.
He said he was embarrassed by this request.
Yengeni eventually acquired the car for R182 663.64, according to Woerfel's written admissions before court.
" After [Yengeni] took delivery of the vehicle in approximately December 1998, I became aware that there were difficulties with him obtaining finance from Stannic and that my staff at DASA had had to resort to obtaining finance from Mercedes-Benz Finance (Pty) Limited," said Woerfel in papers before court.
Yengeni, who pleaded not guilty to all charges of fraud and corruption, admitted to receiving the Mercedes at a discount but said he "did not receive the discount with a corrupt intent".
On Friday the court heard from Pierre Ferreira, the general manager of a car retailer, that the Mercedes-Benz ML320A was sought after in South Africa, with a one-year waiting list for the luxury car.
The case has been postponed to January 16 next year.
With acknowledgements to Nashira Davids and Sunday Times.