Eskom initiates lawsuit to recoup R3.8bn from former Gupta associates
JOHANNESBURG - Embattled power utility Eskom has trained its eyes on former associates of the controversial Gupta family, announcing yesterday that it had initiated a lawsuit to recoup at least R3.8billion from its former directors, executives, contractors and consultants, and a former government minister.
Eskom said yesterday that it had teamed up with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to issue summons in the North Gauteng High Court to recover the funds.
The utility said the funds were lost during the “state capture” years when it improperly and illegally paid the Gupta family and its entities during their acquisition of Optimum Coal Holdings (OCH) in 2015.
“This delictual claim for damages that Eskom suffered relates to the recovery of approximately R3.8bn in funds illegally diverted from Eskom to help the Gupta family and its associates to acquire the operations of OCH, which owned the Optimum Coal Mining (Pty) Ltd that supplied the Hendrina power station with coal,” Eskom said.
“The further delictual claim for damages pertains to the payments that were unlawfully made to Trillian (Capital Partners) by Eskom executives.”
Eskom is battling runaway debt of R450bn, including liquidating corrupt suppliers, reviewing dodgy contracts and engaging municipalities to settle their debt.
Earlier this year, the utility instituted liquidation proceedings against Trillian after the North Gauteng High Court in October 2019 set aside and declared as null and void Eskom’s payment of about R600million entities in the Trillian stable.
The defendants in the R3.8bn damages claim are former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe, former chief financial officer Anoj Singh, former group executive for generation Matshela Koko, and former company secretary Suzanne Daniels.
Koko, who has always professed his innocence in the allegations of state capture, said he was unshaken by Eskom’s litigation, and it was a bad publicity stunt.
“I am reminded of similar summonses I received from Magda Wierzycka and the Helen Suzman Foundation in November 2017, which came to naught,” he said.
“The latest summonses by Eskom SA and the SIU will also come to naught.”
Eskom also seeks damages against former board chairperson Dr Ben Ngubane, former board members Chwayita Mabude and Mark Pamensky.
Former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane, consultant Salim Essa, and Gupta brothers Tony, Atul and Ajay have also been cited as defendants.
Eskom said all of the former executives and board members breached their fiduciary duty of care and good faith to the utility.
“These 12 defendants acted in a concerted effort whose objective was the corrupt, alternatively irregular, diversion of resources from Eskom,” it said.
Eskom said it reserved the right to pursue other individuals and entities, or to join others to this action.