ANCYL in coal bribe scan­dal

Firm says R500 000 went to Collen Maine for ‘po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion’ to res­cue Eskom deal

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By THANDUXOLO JIKA

ANC Youth League pres­i­dent Collen Maine ne­go­ti­ated and ac­cepted a half a mil­lion rand “do­na­tion” from a coal com­pany af­ter promis­ing he could pre­vent its con­tract with Eskom be­ing scrapped.

At the time of the do­na­tion Eskom had given no­tice that it was plan­ning to ter­mi­nate its R8-bil­lion con­tract with Just Coal.

Fear­ing Eskom would go ahead with the threat, own­ers of the com­pany met with Maine, who they al­lege promised to find a “po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion” to its prob­lems with Eskom, but said this would come at a price — a R500 000 do­na­tion to the ANCYL.

Al­though the money was paid, Maine never de­liv­ered the promised “po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion” and Just Coal’s con­tract was sub­se­quently ter­mi­nated.

The com­pany has now turned to par­lia­ment and the courts seek­ing the re­in­state­ment of the con­tract.

Maine yes­ter­day con­firmed that “we did re­ceive the do­na­tion as re­quested by my­self on be­half of the youth league”.

How­ever, he de­nied promis­ing to se­cure the con­tract for the com­pany.

Maine said the money from Just Coal was paid into the youth league’s bank ac­count.

The do­na­tion to the youth league is one of many such pay­ments that Just Coal, owned by bil­lion­aire Joe Singh, claims to have been “forced” to pay to Gauteng politi­cians and se­nior Eskom ex­ec­u­tives.

In its ex­plo­sive doc­u­ment sub­mit­ted to par­lia­ment last month, the com­pany says it was ap­proached by a Gauteng politi­cian in March. The politi­cian — who is not named — wanted Just Coal to give a stake in the busi­ness and at least 50 trucks to a com­pany — also not named — linked to now sus­pended Eskom act­ing CEO Mat­shela Koko if it wanted to keep its con­tract.

The claims are re­peated in Just Coal’s sum­mons, which was served on Eskom this month.

The dossier was sent to the Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces’ se­lect com­mit­tee on com­mu­ni­ca­tions and pub­lic en­ter­prises on Au­gust 3 and copied to Pub­lic En­ter­prises Direc­tor-Gen­eral Richard Seleke. Com­mit­tee chair­woman Ellen Prins said she had not re­ceived the dossier yet.

In the let­ter to par­lia­ment, Singh’s lawyer Bran­don Tsha­bangu wrote: “In early March 2017, we re­ceived a mes­sage from one se­nior ANC leader, who in­formed us that we should give 20% of our com­pany to a com­pany as­so­ci­ated to Mat­shela Koko and should we refuse, we shall in a few days re­ceive a let­ter that Mat­shela Koko will ter­mi­nate our 10year coal sup­ply agree­ment with Eskom.

“We also re­ceived re­quests for fi­nan­cial grat­i­fi­ca­tions and we com­plied with some and re­fused many. As a re­sult of our re­fusal, on 28 March 2017, our 10-year coal-sup­ply [agree­ment] was un­law­fully ter­mi­nated by Mat­shela Koko.”

This is not the first time Koko has been linked to con­tro­versy. He is fac­ing a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing over al­le­ga­tions that he awarded about R1-bil­lion in con­tracts to a com­pany as­so­ci­ated with his step­daugh­ter,

Koketso Choma.

A re­port by Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr rec­om­mended he be dis­ci­plined and that all con­tracts as­so­ci­ated with the com­pany, Im­pulse In­ter­na­tional, af­ter Choma joined it be in­ves­ti­gated.

The Pre­ven­tion and Com­bat­ing of Cor­rupt Ac­tiv­i­ties Act de­scribes the of­fer­ing, ac­cep­tance or pay­ment of a grat­i­fi­ca­tion as cor­rup­tion.

“Any per­son who di­rectly or in­di­rectly (a) ac­cepts or agrees or of­fers to ac­cept any grat­i­fi­ca­tion from any other per­son, whether for the ben­e­fit of him­self or her­self or for the ben­e­fit of an­other per­son or (b) gives or agrees or of­fers to give to any other per­son any grat­i­fi­ca­tion, whether for the ben­e­fit of that other per­son or for the ben­e­fit of an­other per­son . . . is guilty of cor­rup­tion,” it says.

Eskom would not dis­cuss Singh’s al­le­ga­tions as the cir­cum­stances of its “can­cel­la­tion of the con­tract and its rea­sons for do­ing so, are the sub­ject of a pend­ing court case . . . Eskom con­firms that a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion has com­menced and it would be pre­ma­ture . . . to com­ment thereon”.

Koko, who de­nied any wrong­do­ing, re­ferred all ques­tions to Eskom, but said: “I re­ject any al­le­ga­tions of im­pro­pri­ety.”

Singh, through his lawyer, de­clined to com­ment as the mat­ter was go­ing be­fore the courts.

It is un­clear how Maine learnt of the im­passe be­tween Just Coal and Koko.

Nonethe­less, the Sun­day Times un­der­stands that af­ter Maine met with the own­ers of Just Coal in early March and promised them a “po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion”, R500000 was trans­ferred from the com­pany’s Ned­bank ac­count to the ANCYL on March 14.

Youth league sec­re­tary-gen­eral Njabulo Nzuza also con­firmed the “do­na­tion”.

He said: “We can con­firm the do­na­tion of the 14th of March . . . the or­gan­i­sa­tion re­ceives do­na­tions meant to ad­vance the cause of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

Two ANCYL na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers claimed the league had in fact been ex­pect­ing R1-mil­lion from Just Coal. They ac­cused Maine of us­ing the league’s name for per­sonal gain and said they sus­pected he had pock­eted the other half.

“He is do­ing busi­ness deals us­ing the name of the or­gan­i­sa­tion. We were told there would be a do­na­tion of R1-mil­lion but only half reached our cof­fers,” said the leader.

Asked if the league was aware of such claims, Nzuza said: “We can’t ac­count for do­na­tions that go to in­di­vid­u­als.”

Maine said: “When you fundraise you don’t prom­ise peo­ple or com­pa­nies any­thing. I have no au­thor­ity over Eskom. I can’t dis­cuss its op­er­a­tions with any­body.”

The ad­mis­sion that Just Coal makes in its sub­mis­sion to par­lia­ment, in­clud­ing the pay­ments of grat­i­fi­ca­tion, is also made in the com­pany’s sum­mons, which were served on Eskom on Septem­ber 15.

In the sum­mons Tsha­bangu re­peated the al­le­ga­tion that Just Coal was “forced” to give grat­i­fi­ca­tion to cer­tain un­named in­di­vid­u­als.

In April the com­pany had asked Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown to in­ter­vene, be­cause it be­lieved the can­cel­la­tion of its con­tracts was “a mat­ter of per­sonal agen­das” by Koko “and other in­di­vid­u­als”, he said.

“There were var­i­ous is­sues that had arisen prior the can­cel­la­tion of the con­tract . . . which in­formed [Just Coal] to make cer­tain cor­rupt deals [or face the threat of] ter­mi­na­tion of the above con­tract,” Tsha­bangu said in court pa­pers.

Depart­ment of Pub­lic En­ter­prises spokesman Colin Cruywagen re­fused to dis­cuss the al­le­ga­tions.

The prob­lems be­tween Just Coal and Eskom started in Oc­to­ber when the power util­ity’s head of se­cu­rity in the of­fice of the CEO, Te­bogo Rakau, opened a fraud case at the Sand­ton po­lice sta­tion against Just Coal.

Rakau al­leged that Just Coal was forg­ing doc­u­ments to pass off sub­stan­dard coal.

How­ever, Tsha­bangu, in Just Coal’s court ap­pli­ca­tion, said the com­pany had met with the in­ves­ti­ga­tor in the case and was shown a blank docket.

Sand­ton po­lice spokesman Cap­tain Mohlaume Mam­abolo said this week the case con­tin­ued to be in­ves­ti­gated by the spe­cial com­mer­cial crimes unit.

The Sun­day Times un­der­stands that Eskom is in­ves­ti­gat­ing Just Coal af­ter some em­ploy­ees con­fessed to be­ing bribed by the coal com­pany.

There were var­i­ous is­sues that had arisen . . . which in­formed [Just Coal] to make cer­tain cor­rupt deals [or face the threat of] ter­mi­na­tion of the con­tract Bran­don Tsha­bangu Lawyer act­ing for Just Coal owner Joe Singh

ANC Youth League pres­i­dent Collen Maine

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