Gupta mining company, Tegeta Exploration, was given a R587 million ‘pre-payment’ by Eskom within six hours of South Africa’s major banks refusing to finance its bid to buy Optimum coal mines, amaBhungane reports.
The revelation was made in the release of business rescue documents, detailing the process that was followed on 11 April 2016, in attaining the money needed to complete the purchase of the mine from Glencore.
It was previously reported that Tegeta had received the money from Eskom – completely above board – through an extension of a contract to supply Eskom with coal. According to Eskom, the deal was approved so Tegeta could open up new mining areas at Optimum’s Mpumalanga mine.
However, Tegeta has now confirmed to amaBhungane that the money was instead used to buy Optimum – with the group adding that it was entitled to use the money however it saw fit.
The publication’s investigation saw minutes – from Optimum’s business rescue practitioners – showing that on the morning of 11 April, Tegeta applied for a R600 million loan from Investec, Nedbank and FirstRand, which was rejected.
In a rushed tender committee meeting at 9pm that same evening, Eskom approved the ‘pre-payment’, handing the money over to Tegeta.
In a statement on the matter, Eskom has recharacterised the pre-payment as a loan, and says that, as of August 2016, the loan “has been recovered via coal delivered to Eskom” – though this has been at an elevated price, according to reports.
Tegeta’s relationship with Eskom has come under constant public scrutiny, and is said to be core to the Public Protector’s investigation into allegations of state capture. While strongly associated with the Gupta family, Tegeta is also partly owned by president Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane.
In early September, 2016, National Treasury rejected a request from Eskom to extend a contract with Tegeta by a further R855 million. Had the payment been approved, over R1.7 billion would have been paid to the company since its relationship with Eskom started in 2015.
You can read the full report on amaBhungane.