EOH Group CEO reveals how company paid bribes to politicians and officials to secure government contracts
Johannesburg – Details of how senior company officials at EOH Holdings – a major ICT player – allegedly duped the SANDF and the Department of Water and Sanitation, were laid bare at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Monday.
The details were revealed by the company's group chief executive, Stephen van Coller, who appeared before the commission.
He told commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo he was instrumental in the termination of various dubious and controversial government contracts awarded to EOH prior to his appointment in September 2018.
Van Coller told the commission he agreed to take up employment with EOH at that time after failing to agree to terms in the past while still employed in the banking and later telecommunication industry.
According to him, he was alerted about the company’s past “dodgy and dubious” dealings when he received a letter from Microsoft about its intention to terminate its contract with EOH.
“The letter was signed by Microsoft’s trainee legal officer. Microsoft said that they would terminate the contract within 30 days. As I knew the previous Microsoft CEO, I then contacted him about their intentions. He said he was not aware of the details but received instructions from their headquarters in Dublin to terminate the contract,” Van Coller said.
He said he then summoned his senior officials to provide him with information.
“During my investigation, I then found out that the matter related to software licence. EOH had overcharged the SANDF. They had also bypassed Sita to get software licences for the army.
“If EOH had gone through Sita, they would have obtained those software licences much cheaper. The same thing happened with SAP software at the Department of Water and Sanitation.
“The Department of Water and Sanitation wanted 20 000 software licences but only 15 000 were delivered to them, but at a higher price,” Van Coller said.
He said the two cases were part of fraudulent activities which amounted to the loss of billions of rand by the ICT company.
According to Van Coller, prior to his tenure, EOH paid bribes to senior politicians and officials in municipalities to gain massive tenders.
He said he handed over all evidence to the Hawks and Special Investigating Unit, who had now concluded their investigations and were ready to pounce on the rogue officials.