EOH Holdings chief executive Stephen van Coller caused harm to many small black businesses working with EOH by treating all enterprise development partners as ’suspected’ criminals. Picture: Supplied
EOH Holdings chief executive Stephen van Coller caused harm to many small black businesses working with EOH by treating all enterprise development partners as ’suspected’ criminals. Picture: Supplied

EOH chief faces claims of destroying black businesses, lying at the Zondo Commission

By Sizwe Dlamini Time of article published Nov 23, 2021

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EOH HOLDINGS chief executive Stephen van Coller caused harm to many small black businesses working with EOH by treating all enterprise development partners as “suspected” criminals.

This is according to Save EOH – a group that aims to expose the unethical business conduct within the company – who made claims that Van Coller lied under oath to the Zondo Commission on no less than 54 occasions during his testimony.

The Save EOH submission to the Zondo Commission noted at least 54 factual inaccuracies relating to various aspects of the company, which it said formed the basis for formal criminal charges to be registered with the SAPS.

The submission has also been delivered to shareholders and members of the board of EOH.

When contacted for comment, EOH group chief risk officer Fatima Newman said EOH had, in June this year, filed civil claims against a number of former EOH executives seeking total damages of R6.4 billion.

She said the EOH board had decided to do this after an extensive legal investigation, and the charges filed included delinquency, breach of fiduciary duties and breach of contract.

“Further civil suits against other individuals may follow as the process unfolds.

“The EOH board believes that the recently launched anonymous ‘Save EOH' smear campaign, which levels malicious and frivolous allegations against EOH chief executive Stephen van Coller is an attempt to retaliate against these civil actions and Van Coller and his team's efforts to turn the organisation around.”

“The EOH board, led by its chairperson Andrew Mthembu, fully supports the EOH executive team, including Van Coller, and acknowledge their significant achievements over the past three years.

“The EOH board regards this personal attack as deplorable. The EOH board has no further comment on the matter,” said Newman.

Save EOH said in a statement: “Not long after joining EOH, Van Coller embarked on a deliberate strategy to artificially create a crisis at EOH when there was none, and then promote himself as the white knight who saves it.

“He has done so by orchestrating a very deliberate, systematic, and structured media campaign lasting three years, resulting in some 1 700 media articles based on misleading, inaccurate information, and blatant lies about EOH.

“At the same time, he has used this as an approach to promote himself, embarking on producing conferences, webcasts and seminars aimed at publicising his manufactured crisis and self-promotion whilst painting EOH as a failing, corrupt organisation.”

Save EOH, whose members have remained anonymous due to the fear of targeted harassment and other security issues, said Van Coller abandoned the very strategy he was hired for, where his appointment was part of a broader strategy with him as chief executive of EOH.

It said EOH employed approximately 11 500 employees when Van Coller joined, and in less than three years since his appointment, EOH had lost more than half of its staff, according to Save EOH.

The technology company's annual revenue is now at R6.8 billion compared with R16.4bn three years ago, a reduction of 59 percent, with losses for the last three years.

“Under Van Coller, there has been the loss of R6bn market cap, mostly lost to pensioners through Pension Funds. Van Coller has caused harm to many small black businesses working with EOH by treating all enterprise development partners as ‘suspected' criminals.

“The B-BBEE partner, Lebashe, that came on board and invested R750 million just before Van Coller's arrival, lost about R650m,” said Save EOH.

EOH's share price has continued to plummet since Van Coller's arrival, from around R40 a share when he arrived to around R7 today, this reflects a drop in the share price of around 80 percent.

Save EOH claimed that Van Coller spent R190m on other consultants, a large part likely to be considered as suspect as it was unclear what function these consultants had served.

“Some consultants advised which businesses to sell and then received a substantial commission on the sale of these businesses, a case of conflict of interests.”

Investigations Unit – [email protected]

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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