‘Eskom spent R30.6m on Tril­lian bill’

Fake in­voice sent, MP probe told

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS - EMSIE FER­REIRA

AWHISTLEBLOWER YES­TER­DAY told the par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into Eskom the power util­ity set­tled a fraud­u­lent in­voice from Tril­lian for R30.6 mil­lion.

For­mer Tril­lian Man­age­ment Con­sult­ing (TMC) chief ex­ec­u­tive Bianca Good­son said she found her sig­na­ture on a cover let­ter to the in­voice that was sent to Anoj Singh, Eskom’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, who was sus­pended fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions of im­proper pay­ments to com­pa­nies linked to the po­lit­i­cally con­nected Gupta broth­ers.

She did not com­pile the in­voice, nor did she write the cover let­ter, Good­son said. She was adamant that there was no rea­son to re­mu­ner­ate TMC, an af­fil­i­ate of Tril­lian Cap­i­tal Part­ners, as it had only one other em­ployee and no ca­pac­ity to de­liver on a big con­tract, yet the sum was paid to Tril­lian. “I did not do that work and my CFO did not do that work. We did no bill­able work. We were es­tab­lish­ing the com­pany,” she told Par­lia­ment’s port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on pub­lic en­ter­prises, which is the con­duct­ing the in­quiry.

Good­son said she quit Tril­lian in 2016 af­ter just two and half months with the com­pany, dis­abused of the no­tion that it would be a “proudly black con­sult­ing firm”.

“It is my im­pres­sion that I was not em­ployed for my com­pe­tence,” she said.

She dis­cov­ered there was no in­ten­tion for the com­pany to de­velop ca­pac­ity; in­stead its role ap­peared to se­cure con­tracts with the state for com­pa­nies like con­sult­ing firm McKin­sey and earn large sums for do­ing very lit­tle work.

“It was cre­ated to sim­ply get 50% of cer­tain rev­enues,” Good­son said, when ques­tioned by MPs about the modus operandi of the com­pany.

She said she had been in­structed to open an ac­count with the Bank of Bar­oda and hand over sign­ing power to some­body else. She added that she never saw money come in or go out of the ac­count.

Her tes­ti­mony cor­rob­o­rated that of an­other Tril­lian whistle­blower, Mosilo Mothepu, who told the in­quiry ear­lier this week that staff were in­formed that for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Nh­lanhla Nene would be fired, some six weeks be­fore it hap­pened in De­cem­ber 2015.

Like Mothepu, she said she was in­formed that Mo­hamad Bo­bat, a for­mer em­ployee at Tril­lian Cap­i­tal Part­ners, would be­come the ad­viser to the new fi­nance min­is­ter, Des van Rooyen, who Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma was forced to re­place af­ter a mere four days fol­low­ing an out­cry.

Ac­cord­ing to Mothepu, staff at Tril­lian were told that Van Rooyen’s ar­rival at Na­tional Trea­sury and Bo­bat’s place­ment would se­cure more lu­cra­tive con­tracts for the firm.

Good­son yes­ter­day said a large per­cent­age of money that flowed to Tril­lian through state con­tracts was chan­nelled to sub-con­trac­tors, no­tably to a com­pany called Gate­way, based in Dubai.

Good­son gave ev­i­dence to for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela while she con­ducted an in­quiry into state cap­ture, which found that Eskom ap­peared to have gone to ex­tra­or­di­nary lengths to fa­cil­i­tate a lu­cra­tive coal sup­ply con­tract for the Gup­tas’s Tegeta Ex­plo­ration.

On Thurs­day, EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu said that although the fam­ily had nom­i­nally sold Tegeta, they re­mained in con­trol of the com­pany and con­tin­ued to ben­e­fit from the con­tract for the Op­ti­mum coal mine to sup­ply Eskom.

He urged Par­lia­ment to in­ter­vene to en­sure the deal was can­celled, given the dire state of Eskom’s fi­nances and the con­se­quences for the econ­omy if it were to de­fault on gov­ern­ment-guar­an­teed debt. – ANA

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