A follow-up report by amaBhungane has connected the dots in a string of events, showing how Eskom allegedly got into bed with Gupta-linked companies to help the family buy a mine – while all involved continue to deny the facts presented in the Public Protector’s State of Capture report.
In its previous report, amaBhungane highlighted how Eskom allegedly put pressure on mining group Glencore to sell its Optimum coal mine to the Guptas.
Outside the claims of blackmail and political pressure, the report highlighted that several companies had to get involved for the Guptas to find enough money to afford the mining operation’s price of R2.1 billion.
While it is widely known that Eskom gave the Guptas R659 million in ‘pre-payment’ for coal – which is said to have been used to buy the mine – new evidence shows that the power utility may have also been feeding hundreds of millions of rands to Gupta-linked companies as well.
In the Public Protector’s State of Capture report, one company was mentioned specifically – financial services company, Trillian Capital Partners, which is owned by “Gupta lieutenant”, Salim Essa.
The PP’s report states that Trillian had contributed R235 million towards the Optimum purchase – a claim which the company denies. While the company has no direct investment in the Guptas’ mining company, Tegeta, Essa’s other company, Elgasolve, does.
Through its own investigations, amaBhungane found that Trillian had invoiced Eskom a total of R419 million between April and December 2016 – including an amount of R233 million around the time of the Optimum acquisition.
This, the reporters said, is incredibly close to the amount the Public Protector said was paid in contribution to the Guptas’ acquisition of Optimum (R235 million).
However, Eskom denies having any contracts in place with Trillian, and public enterprises minister appeared before Parliament saying that no contracts of engagement had ever been completed between Eskom and Trillian.
According to reporters, this highlights a clear contradiction to what Brown told Parliament, as well as the statements from Eskom and Trillian that there have been no contracts. Simply put – Parliament was misled.
Despite the paper trail, amaBhungane said that the investigation is unlikely to be resolved any time soon, as the State of Capture report, as well as some other investigations, are currently tied up in legal matters.
Further, the reporters highlighted that an internal investigation launched by Trillian chairman, Tokyo Sexwale, is reportedly being stonewalled by the Trillian executive team.
“Trillian’s executive team has been refusing to furnish further documents or Wood’s laptop, iPad and cellphone for inspection,” the report said.
In response to amaBhungane’s investigation, Trillian denied making any payment towards the Optimum acquisition, and refused to comment on the payments from Eskom. Eskom also refused to comment on the payments, saying only that it had no contracts in place with Trillian.
You can read the full in-depth report on amaBhungane’s website.