Nhlanhla Nene, South Africa’s former finance minister Photo: Bloomberg

DURBAN - Trillian Capital group chief executive Eric Wood has been accused of making hundreds of millions of rand by using his knowledge of the axing of then-Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in the currency trade.
The startling allegations were made by whistle-blower and former Trillian financial advisory chief executive Mosilo Mothepu during an inquiry in Parliament yesterday.

Mothepu had been with Regiments Capital from 2007 until she moved to Trillian when the former was incorporated into the latter in 2016.

Mothepu listed how Trillian made millions from Eskom without going through a tender process. She also explained how they provided advisory services to Eskom when the company had the same skills. This was also expressed by technical people at Eskom, who resisted some of the things done by Trillian.

The hearing was told how Eskom allegedly asked Trillian to work on the sale of its non-core assets to raise R23billion, but this was never completed.

Eventually the government sold its Vodacom stake to raise R23bn to fund Eskom and converted its loan of R60bn into equity in 2015.

Mothepu said McKinsey only told Eskom in March that it had failed its global risk review.

She said she only knew of R30million paid to Trillian for Eskom’s corporate plan, but later discovered it was paid R600m for other work.

“The other payments I became aware of when (advocate Geoff) Budlender, SC, showed me the payments made. Trillian was paid under R600m for these transactions,” said Mothepu.

“I don’t believe the advice we gave to Eskom was worth R600m, because the capacity was there at Eskom. You need consultants if you don't have capacity. They had capacity.”

Mothepu said she was astounded and shocked when Trillian was paid R93m for the work it never did in the raising of Transnet’s club loan of R12bn from the banks.

“There was no contract between Transnet and Trillian to justify the payment of R93m. I worked on that transaction. Trillian invoiced Transnet for nothing,” she said. At the time, in December 2015, she was still at Regiments.

Transnet paid another R40m to Trillian for nothing over the evaluation of its assets.

Mothepu also claimed that Wood told her of the impending firing of Nene in October, and this was confirmed in December. The same happened when Pravin Gordhan was fired as finance minister in March this year.

However, she discovered that Wood made hundreds of millions of rand on the use of his knowledge on the firing of Nene in the currency trade.

“He bought dollars on November 1. When the rand was crashing he reversed the trade and made hundreds of millions of rand,” said Mothepu.

She also told Parliament Trillian contributed to the sale of Optimum Mine by Tegeta. She said she picked up from the report of the former public protector Thuli Madonsela that Trillian contributed R235m to this transaction.

She said these transactions were never discussed.

“We would be given stuff (contracts) on a silver platter that other companies did not have,” said Mothepu.