McKinsey: We've been ready to pay back Eskom's money for two months

Cape Town - Global consultancy McKinsey says it has been ready to pay back fees it earned from power utility Eskom for two months now, and is willing to cooperate with South African authorities on investigations around state capture.

In a statement sent to Fin24 on Tuesday, a spokesperson from the global management consulting firm said it is aware of media reports that the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA's) Asset Forfeiture Unit is planning to serve it and Gupta-linked group Trillian Capital Partners with a preservation order for assets worth around R1.6bn.

McKinsey said it has not yet received the order.

The order relates to controversial consultancy work the company and Trillian did for both Eskom and Transnet.

In October last year, Eskom said in a statement it was seeking the cooperation of McKinsey and Trillian in returning R1bn and R564m respectively “which appears to have been unlawfully paid out in 2016 and 2017”.

As News24 reported, NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said on Monday that the two firms have 90 days to indicate if they will defend the matter. “If they do, the onus is on them to satisfy the court that they acquired [the assets] through lawful means,” he said.

However, McKinsey told Fin24 it is prepared to pay back the money it has earned.

"As we have said before, including before the parliamentary inquiry, we will return the fee we earned from the Eskom turnaround programme (R1.028bn), no matter what. We welcome any efforts to help us pay back the money,” the spokesperson said.  

“The R1.028bn is in a ringfenced account, held separately, and is ready to be paid. It has been there for over two months.”

No joy from Eskom

McKinsey said it has written to the power utility five times since October, requesting that it set up court proceedings to have the monies paid.

“They have taken no action. We want this money to be transferred quickly so it can be used for the benefit of the South African people," it said. 

“We have been taking legal advice and will find another way to give this money to the people of South Africa in case Eskom decides not to pursue the matter in an appropriate legal forum.”

Eskom is yet to respond to Fin24’s queries on the matter.  

In October 2017 McKinsey had said it would only pay back the money on a court order.

But in November 2017, when testifying before the Eskom inquiry in Parliament, McKinsey senior partner David Fine said the consultancy had resolved to pay back the R1bn, even if a court found it to be legal.

McKinsey is still taking this stance in its statement.

“We are returning this money not because we have done anything wrong, but because Eskom has told us they did not follow the appropriate process," its spokesperson said on Tuesday. 

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