Come clean or else, Eskom tells companies involved in looting

Eskom on Friday said it's “delighted” that ABB SA will repay almost R1.6bn that the company fraudulently gained after being awarded a multibillion-rand contract at the Kusile power plant.
Eskom on Friday said it's “delighted” that ABB SA will repay almost R1.6bn that the company fraudulently gained after being awarded a multibillion-rand contract at the Kusile power plant.
Image: Waldo Swiegers/Sunday Times

Companies involved in looting of state-owned enterprises have been urged to follow construction company ABB’s example and come clean, or know they will be found out.

Eskom on Friday said it was “delighted” with the settlement that it had reached with ABB SA to repay almost R1.6bn that the company fraudulently gained after it was awarded a multibillion-rand contract at the Kusile power plant.

Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said this was the first of millions of rand the company aimed to recoup — money that had been lost due to dodgy tenders over the years.

Among those Eskom wants to reclaim cash from is the Gupta family.

“We have recovered R1.1bn from McKinsey, we have recovered R171m from Deloitte, we are pursuing another claim of R93m from PWC. We have recently launched a civil claim to recover R3.8bn from members of the Gupta family and different associates, and that claim is making its way to the courts,” said De Ruyter.

He stressed, however, that the R1.6bn to be paid back by ABB was just a drop in the ocean of their debt. The amount made up just 0.25% of the parastatal's total debt.

Meanwhile, justice minister Ronald Lamola, who joined Eskom, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and his public enterprises counterpart Pravin Gordhan at a joint briefing on Friday, applauded the SIU for this breakthrough, saying it was the biggest ever in SIU history.

Gordhan urged other businesses and companies to follow in the footsteps of ABB, particularly those entities that found themselves entangled with state capture.

“We must congratulate the ABB management for the disclosure that they made on a voluntary basis. I think this is an important signal to other businesses that if they have been involved, intentionally or otherwise, in any form of corruption or undermining of the integrity, governance or operation or financial status of SOEs, now is the time to come forward,” Gordhan said.

Gordhan also commended the scope of the investigations.

In the ABB investigations, the FBI in the US was also roped in.

“So while you may be able to hide certain things in SA, there are other agencies that are involved in this process and they will certainly have a deep interest in what is going on in our country,” Gordhan added.

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