File photo: Reuters
Johannesburg - As pressure mounts on President Jacob Zuma to establish a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, the Gupta empire continues to crumble.

On Monday the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) announced it was ready to pounce on Eskom bosses accused of having played in pivotal role in allegations of corruption.

SIU spokesperson Nazreen Pandor made the confirmation following media reports that an increasing number of Eskom bosses were placed on suspension.

Earlier, Eskom chief financial officer Anoj Singh and former acting chief executive Matshela Koko were placed on suspension.

Now the power utility has also confirmed the suspension of acting head of group capital Prish Govender; senior procurement official Charles Kalima; and chief procurement officer Edwin Mabelane.

The three executives were the latest to be suspended, allegedly for their role in preferring the Gupta-linked Trillian to award a controversial contract to consultancy firm Mckinsey despite adverse advice by the power utility.

“The SIU can confirm that after extensive engagements with the Department of Public Enterprises, receipt of the necessary documents and assessment of these documents, the scoping of the investigation into the alleged maladministration and malpractice at Eskom has been completed. 

"The proclamation process is being followed in accordance with the SIU Act and applicable processes,” Pandor said.

According to Pandor, the SIU would prioritise this investigation and work speedily and meticulously to see its completion.

Reports indicated that Eskom’s internal report on the Trillian matter has recommended criminal investigations against some of the officials implicated.

This came in the wake of a Cosatu march last week against state capture and mounting pressure on Zuma to establish a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.

In June this year, former Trillian chairman Tokyo Sexwale released the outcome of his investigation of his former company’s role in helping the Guptas buy mining firm Tegeta.

The report was compiled by advocate Geoff Budlender, who was appointed by Sexwale in November last year, soon after reports in the media implicated Trillian Capital Partners in corruption amounting to billions of rand.

Budlender found that an illegal payment of more than a quarter of a billion rand had been transferred from Eskom into the accounts of Trillian subsidiary companies, which allegedly had not tendered for any of the jobs.

Budlender also made a similar finding against Transnet, especially its engineering division.

According to Budlender’s findings, these funds were allegedly used to support various illegal business initiatives of the Gupta family.

Budlender said Tegeta Exploration and Resources purchased controlling shares in Optimum Coal Holdings “under circumstances of considerable controversy” after Eskom allegedly improperly facilitated the deal for the benefit of Tegeta shareholders.

The Tegeta shareholders are: Guptas 29%; 28.53% is owned by Mabengela Investment, of which Zuma’s son Duduzane holds 45%; and Rajesh Kumar Gupta holds 25%.

Two percent is owned by Ashu Chawla, the chief executive of the Gupta-owned Sahara Company; and 21.5% is owned by Elgasolve, whose sole director is Salim Aziz Essa. 

Essa owns all the shares in Trillian Holdings, which in turn holds 60% of the shares in Trillian Capital Partners.

In his findings, Budlender found that as the date for the purchase of the Tegeta mine drew closer, the mining companies did not have the funds needed to cover the purchase price.

He corroborated former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s findings in the State of Capture report that between December 11, 2015, and April 14 last year more than R2.4 billion was paid into the Bank of Baroda’s account for Tegeta’s benefit.

Budlender said he had questioned Trillian about this transaction, but they failed to respond, leading him to conclude that “there are strong grounds for suspecting that this money (R2.4bn) was used to assist Tegeta to pay for the shares in Optimum Coal Holdings”.

Political Bureau