Eskom officials pocketed R44 million from build programme, says SIU

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Parliament: The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) said on Wednesday it had found evidence of gratification to the tune of R44.4 million that flowed from contractors and sub-contractors at Eskom's new build projects to four officials at the power utility.

The SIU told Parliament's watchdog Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) that its investigations into three of the four contractors who paid subcontractors R136m were at an advanced stage.

The contractors paid the money to subcontractors who then made unlawful payments to the Eskom officials.

"Evidence was found pointing to the commission of fraud, contraventions of the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act, corruption and money laundering," it said in its presentation.

The SIU has now referred 27 individuals and companies to the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) Investigating Directorate (ID). So far, four people have been arrested –two are former Eskom officials and the other two are private individuals representing seven companies.

Meanwhile, civil litigation has been launched against the three contractors to recover R2.78 billion in over-payment on the part of Eskom.

The civil suit includes a bid to set aside a contract of R1.2bn.

The SIU said it had also uncovered fraudulent claims submitted to Eskom by a building contractor worth a total R66.9m, and again the evidence pointed to money-laundering, racketeering and contraventions of the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act.

Further claims submitted by the same building contractor are still being probed by the SIU.

The investigation into fraudulent claims has so far seen the SIU refer evidence against four people and one company to the NPA and the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU).

It said it was expecting the AFU to launch proceedings with a view to attaching the property of those implicated within the next two weeks.

Another 15 people are under investigation by the NPA in relation to collusion regarding a R2bn contract at Kusile.

This probe has drawn in not only the Hawks and the AFU, but the US's Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuting authorities in Switzerland and Germany as some of the witnesses are foreign nationals.

The construction of Kusile and Eskom's other new coal-based power plant at Medupi has been marked by delays, cost-overruns and serious design faults, and this has bedevilled the company's efforts to end its generation capacity woes. | African News Agency (ANA)

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