Suspended Eskom acting chief executive Matshela Koko Picture: Nicholas Rama
Johannesburg - Suspended Eskom acting chief executive Matshela Koko has vowed to fight criminal charges laid against him by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), but he wouldn’t say on what basis.

“I am aware of the criminal charges against me and I will defend myself,” he said yesterday.

Outa filed charges against Koko, accusing him of having assisted the Guptas to buy Optimum Coal Holdings, which was owned by Glencore.

In their affidavit to the police, Outa chief operating officer Ben Theron gave the police supporting evidence in the form of the #Guptaleaks emails, claiming that prior to securing that deal, Koko flew to Dubai, and that the trip was allegedly fully paid for by the Gupta brothers.

Koko is accused of using his position at Eskom to help the Guptas buy Optimum Coal Holdings (OCH) and its Optimum and Koornfontein coal mines from Glencore by placing them in financial distress and helping to fund the Guptas’ purchase.

Theron said Optimum had a coal-supply agreement with Eskom and had been involved in a dispute with the power utility for several years over the quality of the coal supplied and a contract that forced Glencore to sell its coal to Eskom at a huge loss.

He pointed out that Eskom fined Optimum R2.177billion in penalties, and in July 2015, issued a legal demand for full payment.

“By that time, the Guptas had already made an anonymous offer to buy Optimum, which was rejected.

“The demand for the penalties payment was apparently the last straw financially for Optimum, which went into business rescue on August 4, 2015.

“On December 10 2015, Glencore, OCH and the business rescue practitioners signed an agreement to sell the OCH mines and assets to the Gupta businesses Oakbay Investments and Tegeta Exploration & Resources for R2.15bn.

“The deal had to be paid for and finalised by March 30 2016,” Theron said.

“In December 2015, Tegeta emailed Koko, referring to the need for a prepayment confirmation and asking him ‘to kindly send us a written confirmation regarding the payment for supply of coal amounting to R1680000000 detailing the agreed terms and conditions’.

“In December, Koko engineered a coal ‘emergency’ by manipulating the coal-supply situation and removing Just Coal as one of its suppliers.

“Using emergency procurement procedures, Eskom signed new coal-supply agreements with Tegeta, and between January 29 and April 26 2016, paid Tegeta R1.2bn on these contracts, including prepayments.

“A large part of this was used to fund Tegeta’s purchase of Optimum,” Theron pointed out.

Koko was an Eskom executive from 2014, and from October 2015, the executive in charge of generation, including overseeing coal contracts.

Political Bureau