UK authorities arrest businessman linked to R745m Kusile corruption case



23-04-2021
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The Citizen
Source

UK authorities have arrested businessman Michael Lomas in connection with Eskom’s R745 million Kusile power station corruption case.



This follows an extradition request by the NPA’s Investigating Directorate (ID).



ID spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka said Lomas was arrested on 15 April in London and appeared before the Westminister Magistrates Court on Thursday for a bail application. He was granted bail of £100,000 (R2 million) and submitted an additional surety in the sum of £250,000.



Lomas’ appearance in court means his extradition to South Africa process has begun in the UK, Seboka said.



“Lomas, who was out of the country, has never cooperated with law enforcement to stand trial. The ID brought an extradition application through the UK central authorities to invoke the European Convention on Extradition 1957, the UN Convention against Corruption 2003 to assist in bringing Lomas back into South Africa to account.



“In line with the UK extradition court processes, he needs to appear in the British courts and only after the matter has been ventilated there, will the court decide whether or not to extradite him to South Africa.”



The matter is expected to return to court on 20 May 2021 for case management.



Lomas is the former board chairperson of Tubular Construction, a company that was contracted to Eskom’s Kusile project in Mpumalanga and accused of paying millions in bribes.



Lomas is expected to join his co-accused on 1 June 2021 in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court when the case resumes. His co-accused are former Eskom executives Abram Masango and France Hlakudi, businessman Maphoko Kgomoeswana and Tubular Construction CEO Antonio Trindade.



Their charge sheets include fraud, corruption, money laundering, offering unauthorised gratuities and receiving unauthorised gratuities in connection with the multibillion-rand Kusile power plant.



Last year, the Specialised Investigating Unit (SIU) began probing companies alleged to have received overpayments amounting to R4 billion during the plant’s construction. It was alleged Masango, Hlakudi, Kgomoeswana and Trindade committed these offences from 2014 to 2017.



Masango and Hlakudi were accused of receiving a R30 million bribe each from contractors Trindade and Lomas. Kgomoeswana and his company, Babinatlou Business Services CC, are accused of facilitating the bribes on behalf of the Kusile contractors to the Eskom bosses.



Tax evasion charges



On Thursday, Hlakudi’s application to have a tax evasion charge removed from his charge sheet was dismissed by the Pretoria Regional Court.



Hlakudi is accused of tax evasion of more than R30 million while in the employ of Eskom as a senior manager for capital contracts.



His case returns to court on 24 May 2021.



Kgomoeswana faces an additional tax evasion charge valued at R5 million.

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