THESOUTHAFRICAN / 25 SEPTEMBER 2019 - 11.48 / TOM HEAD
A blatant abuse of the BEE system has been uncovered, following a two-year investigation. It looks like Eskom and the Guptas have more explaining to do.
An extensive investigation has revealed that some of the most infamous Gupta-linked companies managed to score huge contracts with Eskom, by supplying them with fraudulent Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) documents.
A general view of the headquarter of the embattled South African main electricity provider ESKOM is pictured on February 4, 2015 in Johannesburg. South Africa power supply was under "extreme" pressure on February 2, 2015 and likely to remain so until end of the week after a technical fault at the country's sole nuclear plant, electricity utility Eskom said. AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo by GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP)
A complaint laid by the DA in 2017 prompted the establishment of a BEE Commission, which uncovered all the ways that false information was swapped between the Guptas, their companies and the board they had managed to capture at Eskom. Their findings show that Tegetta, Optimum and Trillian have all been implicated.
How Eskom and the Guptas misrepresented the facts
All the companies lied about their business status, claiming to be “micro-businesses” that only turned over a profit of less than R10 million each year. This, despite Trillian entering into agreements with Eskom worth hundreds of millions of rand. The rot absolutely does not stop there, either.
Tegetta Resources, for example, entered into a contract with Eskom in March 2015 which was worth an eye-watering R3.8 billion. Later that year, they received payments from Eskom to the value of R100 million. They still, somehow, were allowed to give a BEE certificate to Eskom classifying them as a micro-enterprise – despite these mega-money deals.
Misrepresenting turnover in this fashion is a blatant act of corruption that has come to characterise these state-captured, Gupta-affiliated outfits. Obtaining these BEE certificates – and passing them off as genuine – doesn’t just violate Eskom’s procurement policies, but it also misleads the authorities and abuses a system that is already on its knees.
Gupta no good – who’s in trouble following BEE Commission’s findings?
The likes of Anoj Singh and Prish Govender – two of the most synonymous figures associated with state capture – are facing criminal charges, to be brought forward by the DA’s Dean Macpherson. He’s also going after the companies who deceived Eskom and the authorities.
Tegetta, Optimum and Trillian are facing criminal charges for misrepresentation of their BEE status and for providing false information to Eskom.
Former Eskom executives Anoj Singh, Prish Govender, Edwin Mabelane and A. Nteta failed to report this misrepresentation to the Commission, and thus, they are being criminally charged.
Simone Mitchell, an accountant for BEE Matrix who would have approved of these fake certificates, will also be processed for her wrongdoings.
Calls to scrap BEE after Eskom farce
Macpherson, who is the opposition party’s Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry, was ultimately satisfied was the results from the Commission. However, he still has some burning questions about this sordid affair and reiterated previous calls by the DA to scrap the current BEE model.
“We welcome the explosive findings by the BEE Commission The big question that has not been answered is, how did BEE Matrix and these Gupta Companies come into contact and what were they paid to willfully misrepresent the facts? This is another nail in the coffin in the Gupta empire, and of state capture itself.”
“It is also a reminder of how BEE has been abused by the elite and politically connected to lock out competition, inflate costs and entrench patronage networks. This is why DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, has called for the current model to be scrapped.”
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER