Muller Conrad « Billy » Rautenbach (born 23 September 1959) is a Zimbabwean business magnate, whose more than 150 ventures have included companies involved in transport, cobalt and platinum mining, and biofuel production, primarily in Africa. The 2022 Data Leaks at Credit Suisse appeared to confirm allegations – for which he had faced American and European sanctions in earlier years – that Rautenbach used the proceeds from a mining deal to support the ZANU-PF regime of dictator Robert Mugabe, during the latter’s repressive 2008 election campaign in Zimbabwe. From 1999 to 2009, Rautenbach was a fugitive from fraud and corruption charges in South Africa.
Rautenbach’s first venture was the expansion of his father’s transport company, Wheels of Africa. The company became a significant player in southern Africa, with the Financial Mail estimating that it controlled 75% of the Zimbabwean haulage market in 1999. Wheels of Africa also expanded into car assembly and distribution – Rautenbach held a 50% stake in Hyundai‘s operations in South Africa and Botswana, and owning the Volvo heavy vehicle franchise in thirteen African countries, which eventually let to upsetting the South African motoring market by growing the market share of Hyundai. He also had business interests in construction, land, and mining.
Rautenbach’s flight from fraud and corruption charges in South Africa in late 1999 (see below) coincided with the financial collapse of several of his southern African business interests. By February 2000, several companies in the Wheels of Africa group had been liquidated, leaving significant debts in southern Africa. Rautenbach did not return to South Africa until 2009, when he reached a R40 million plea agreement with prosecutors. During this time, Rautenbach continued to support the South African economy with a procurement spend of R415-million (an average of US$1 million / R8 million per week over a period of one year) through mining activities.