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Eskom's R595m paid to Trillian 'can't be found'

The money Eskom paid to Trillian cannot be traced.
The money Eskom paid to Trillian cannot be traced.

The R595-million that Eskom paid Gupta-linked Trillian Capital – as part of an allegedly criminal deal – has “disappeared”‚ making it currently impossible for the Asset Forfeiture Unit to recover that cash.

But the state is still going after the R1-billion that the state power utility paid to international consultancy firm McKinsey‚ after negotiations over the return of that money broke down.

Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe has stated that the dealings that senior Eskom officials had with Trillian – including “sending confidential information to Trillian representatives‚ conducting private meetings and accepting holidays in Dubai” – “have all the hallmarks of corruption”.

Eskom is now seeking to overturn its “master service agreement” with McKinsey and Trillian‚ and argues that the R1.6-billion in payments it made to the consultancy firms were unlawful.

McKinsey has maintained it is prepared to pay back the money‚ “should a court order be made”.

In papers filed at the Pretoria High Court yesterday‚ Asset Forfeiture Unit head of operations Knorx Molelle has now applied for the forfeiture of that R1-billion paid by Eskom to McKinsey‚ on the basis that it is the proceeds of crime. He says the AFU agrees that this money must be paid back to Eskom‚ as it was the “victim” of this alleged crime.

“To date and notwithstanding the curator’s endeavours to locate and secure the amount of R595-million paid by Eskom to Trillian‚ the curator bonis‚ to date‚ did not succeed in locating the said property‚” Molelle said.

He confirmed that the AFU had been engaged in settlement discussions with McKinsey over the return of the R1-billion – a process he said was “driven by the broader public interest to ensure the return to Eskom of the funds paid by it to McKinsey‚ as quickly as possible”.

“Unfortunately‚ three settlement discussions have reached an impasse‚” he said‚ adding that it was therefore necessary for the AFU to seek the forfeiture of the money – and avoid the lapsing of a previous court order‚ which froze that money.

He argues that the money should be forfeited‚ according to the provisions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act‚ on the basis of evidence that “rationally and reasonably demonstrates that the property is the proceeds of unlawful activity”.

He says it is “evident” that McKinsey “has come to the realisation that it was not fully entitled to the said payment‚ hence the attempt at settlement”.

As a result‚ Molelle argues‚ McKinsey cannot “legitimately” oppose an order that the R1-billion must be forfeited‚ and returned to Eskom.

No date for the hearing of the forfeitures proceedings has been set yet.

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