State capture inquiry: Ex-director denies discussing prospects of becoming Eskom board member with Gupta family

2019-10-31 17:23
Mark Pamensky. (Photo: Eskom)

Mark Pamensky. (Photo: Eskom)

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A man accused of passing information about Eskom to the Gupta family has denied he discussed the prospect of becoming a board member with the family.

Testifying before state capture inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Thursday morning, Mark Pamensky, who is a former non-executive board member of Eskom, said he was called to a meeting by Atul Gupta in August 2014. 

Pamensky said Gupta had explained they were listing a subsidiary of theirs called Oakbay Resources and Energy that had a subsidiary called Shiva Uranium, adding they were looking for independent non-executive directors to join their boards. 

He said prior to meeting Gupta, he met Rajesh "Tony" Gupta in June 2014 at his house in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, for a discussion over tea.

"He [Tony] contacted me … he said, 'Would you like to come over and have cup of tea and have a discussion'." 

Pamensky was appointed to the Eskom board three months after joining the board of Gupta-owned Oakbay Resources and Energy, Fin24 reported. 

He was appointed the director of Oakbay in September 2014 and Eskom board member in December 2014.

Asked by evidence leader advocate Kate Hofmeyr if he and Tony had discussed The New Age newspaper, Pamensky said they did not. He said during their discussion, Tony only focused on mining and Sahara Computers.

He added his prospects of becoming an Eskom board member was not discussed with him.

In August 2017, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) laid criminal charges against Pamensky for his conduct while he was director at Eskom and Oakbay.

He allegedly shared Eskom information with the Guptas that helped them in their R2.15bn purchase of Optimum Coal Holdings, which had coal contracts with the power utility. 

At the time, Outa CEO Ben Theron said: "In his role as non-executive board member of various companies, Pamensky was the conduit for the flow of privileged information between the companies."

During his appearance before the commission, Pamensky was asked about the R43m Eskom had committed to the TNA breakfast in its third contract.

The contract was signed by then-interim CEO Collin Matjila. Pamensky told the commission he did not know that the previous Eskom board had found that there was no value in the contract.

He said he was also not aware that the two previous contracts with TNA were concluded without a budget, without the involvement of the sponsorship committee and that they were irregular.  

The first sponsorship contract Eskom entered into with TNA cost about R7.1m, while the second was R4m to cover four business breakfasts.

"I would definitely have called for an investigation and never ratified it [the third contract]," Pamensky said. 

Read more on:    outa  |  eskom  |  mark pamensky  |  the guptas  |  zondo commission of inquiry
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