Eskom comes clean on Trillian lie

Johannesburg - Eskom has been forced to admit it lied about receiving the all clear from global consultancy Oliver Wyman over payments to the Gupta-linked Trillian firm.

The consultancy pressured Eskom to come clean after it initially claimed that a R1.6bn payment to Trillian and McKinsey was above board.

In June, Eskom told Business Day, Oliver Wyman conducted an external review and the payments had passed muster. It concluded that “all payments” were “based on prudent costs incurred and value created”.  

The statement came after Advocate Geoff Budlender released his scathing report, implicating Trillian in corruption and state capture. It has also emerged in the last month that Trillian received nearly R495m from Eskom despite no contract being signed between the two companies. 

But New York-based Oliver Wyman became aware of Eskom’s false statement after the release of the Budlender report and questioned the power utility over the discrepancy. Eskom's version differed substantially from the report the consultant had delivered.

In reality, Oliver Wyman refused to approve the appointments and ordered a legal review of the entire contracting process, including a separate process of reviewing Eskom’s master service agreement with McKinsey and the contracting process of the overall programme.

“We confirm that we received a legal query from Oliver Wyman concerning a factually incorrect statement we issued, based on the firm’s technical review undertaken on Eskom’s behalf," Eskom head of legal Suzanne Daniels told Fin24 on Monday.

As a result of the pressure Oliver Wyman applied, Eskom was forced to send out a new statement to all the media that reported on the matter. In the clarification, Daniels explained that Oliver Wyman was selected to conduct “a technical peer-to-peer assessment of the work conducted by McKinsey and Trillian for Eskom”. 

“Oliver Wyman raised concerns with certain of the payment claims on procedural and technical grounds, and raised issues as to whether the payment claims represented fair value for work done.”

She said Oliver Wyman did not approve the making of any payment claims to McKinsey and Trillian.

Daniels told Fin24 the state utility had taken full responsibility for the statement, hence the correction sent out by Eskom. 

“Oliver Wyman is fully justified to be aggrieved by this occurrence,” she said, adding that Eskom was in the process of "remedying its relations" with the consultant. “I want to place it on record that Eskom is treating the matter with the seriousness it requires."

Appropriate steps will be taken against anyone responsible for the statement in question, Daniels stated but added that the steps could not be divulged at this point. Eskom didn’t want to elaborate on who put out the false statement. 

Democratic Alliance spokesperson on public enterprises Natasha Mazzone said she would ask acting public enterprises committee chairperson Zukiswa Ranthoto to ensure that Eskom hands over the Oliver Wyman report to Parliament for scrutiny.

“It is now apparent that Eskom procured the services of Oliver Wyman. Yet, when the advice was not in favour of the Guptas, they blatantly chose to ignore it,” she said. 

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