Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)

Ex-Eskom execs unfazed by SIU moves

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Aug 4, 2020

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Johannesburg - Former Eskom executive Matshela Koko has shrugged off the litigation instituted by Eskom and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to recoup from the utility’s former executives, board members, Gupta family and associates the R3.8billion lost to state capture corruption.

Koko on Monday took to social media, saying the summonses by Eskom and the SIU were “horrific blunder and bad publicity”.

He said he was reminded of similar summonses he received from businesswoman Magda Wierzycka and the Helen Suzman Foundation in 2017 which came to nought.

“The latest summonses by @Eskom_SA and the SIU will also come to nought,” Koko said.

He made the remarks after the two entities announced that they issued the summons in the North Gauteng High Court to recover funds spent on the acquisition of the controversial Optimum Coal Holdings and payments made to Trillian by Eskom executives.

“The funds were lost in a concerted effort corruptly to divert financial resources from Eskom, to improperly and illegally benefit the Gupta family and entities controlled by the said family and their associates during their 2015-16 acquisition of the operations of Optimum Coal Holdings Limited (OCH),” they said.

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the corruption-busting body has been conducting a lot of investigation into contracts at Eskom since 2018.

“This is but one of the investigations we have been conducting and because of evidence we gathered we are now recovering the monies from these individuals,” Kganyago said.

Former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe, chief financial officer Anoj Singh, Koko and former company secretary and head of legal service Suzanne Margaret Daniels are named as defendants.

Others include former board chairperson Ben Ngubane, former board member Chwayita Mabude and former board member Mark Vivian Pamensky.

Also on the list of defendants are former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane, businessman Salim Aziz Essa and Gupta family members Rajesh Tony, Atul and Ajay.

According to Eskom and the SIU, the claim for damages related to the recovery of about R3.8bn 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.

“The further delictual claim for damages pertains to the payments that were unlawfully made to Trillian by Eskom executives.”

They said the former executives and board members breached their fiduciary duty and acted in a concerted state capture effort with the Guptas, Zwane and Salim Essa to illegally divert funds from Eskom.

“As a result of their actions in the acquisition of OCH during this period, Eskom suffered at least R3.8bn in losses which it is legally obliged and morally burdened to recover, together with the interest thereon,” read the statement.

Both Eskom and the SIU said they reserved the right to pursue other individuals and entities or to join others to this action.

“As previously stated, Eskom continues to review major contracts concluded over the years, and where any evidence of corruption or other irregularities have been discovered, Eskom has a moral and legal duty to cancel those contracts, and to recoup any losses it may have suffered as a result of any illegal or irregular activity.”

When contacted for comment, Zwane first laughed off at the reports of him being cited as a respondent in the litigation.

“I have not received anything in that regard. I am unable to comment,” Zwane said.

“It is the first I hear from you. Let me wait and see what they are bringing to me,” said the chairperson of the transport portfolio.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse welcomed Eskom's announcement with its chief executive Wayne Duvenage saying: “This action is long overdue, as both the parliamentary inquiry into Eskom and the Zondo Commission heard testimony on how Eskom was used to facilitate state capture.

"South Africans have long been frustrated by the lack of accountability in government and more specifically in our state-owned enterprises.”

DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said her party welcomed the move by Eskom and the SIU to issue summons in a bid to recover the more than R3.8bn in stolen funds from the former executives, non-executive directors and the Guptas.

“The DA has long called for SIU reports regarding the looting at the power utility to be made public, and for money stolen to be recovered and the guilty parties to face the full extent of the law.

"That an attempt is made to finally get back some of the billions stolen, is most certainly a step in the right direction,” Mazzone said.

She also said the summons should serve as a warning to looters and capturers who though the wheels of justice sometimes turn slowly, and despite the many rocks thrown in its path, the wheels do turn.

The Independent Media made several attempts to get a comment from Matshela on Monday night without success.

Political Bureau

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