It’s emerged that Adriano Mazzotti is a contributor to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's presidential campaign to succeed President Jacob Zuma.
The Sunday Times is reporting that Mazzotti, a controversial cigarette manufacturer, presented Dlamini-Zuma with an array of election paraphernalia, including election caps and shirts.
The startling claims are made in a new book, the President's Keepers by veteran investigative journalist Jacques Pauw.
It's understood in a 2014 affidavit, Mazzotti admitted that his company, Carnilinx, is complicit in fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.
Both he and his company are also said to have contributed cash to Dlamini-Zuma's campaign.
The report also says that Mazzotti, in a recording, boasted about his friendship with David Mahlobo, a former state security minister.
Mahlobo, who was recently appointed as energy minister, apparently declined comment.
Mazzotti has denied the claims and Dlamini-Zuma, approached through her spokesperson, has not commented.