An explosive Hawks memorandum obtained by City Press has revealed the critical steps taken to bring a number of Eskom executives to book for corruption related to the construction of the Kusile and Medupi power stations.
It was the deposit of R400 000 by a service provider’s employee into the bank account of Eskom’s contracts manager, France Hlakudi, and his business Hlakudi Translation and Interpretation, that raised alarm bells.
The discovery of the proof of payment led to Eskom laying criminal charges against its executives in August 2017.
According to the Hawks confidential memorandum, that investigation uncovered “manipulation of contractual agreements because of corrupt practices of contractors, employees and third parties at Kusile power station”.
Hawks investigators also found that progress reports were falsified to benefit the contractors, who, in return, allegedly paid bribes to officials.
“Eskom employees accepted corruption payments to descope the Works Contract from the principal contractor, as well as the extension of works by variation orders. Employees have a conflict of interest about the entities appointed,” the memorandum reads.
The memorandum is addressed to Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya, informing him of the imminent arrest of Eskom officials and the implicated contractors. It also reveals that on September 2 2015, Hlakudi sent a letter to private company “Tubular Construction Projects, [TCP, a subcontractor at Kusile] and/or Antonio Trindade [the owner of TCP] to inform that Eskom has resolved to engage in a negotiation process with TCP as a sole negotiation party to Works Contract on erection of unit 4 to 6”.
“On the same day, Patrice Tiberi (a TCP employee) on request of Trindade paid R400 000 to the bank account of Hlakudi Translation and Interpretation,” reads the memorandum.
According to the brief, Eskom’s head of capital projects, Abram Masango, also allegedly received a bribe from contractors.
“On December 10 2015, Masango signed a letter of acceptance, which concluded a contract with TCP and Eskom for the erection of air-cooled condenser unit 4 to 6 at Kusile, at a total cost of R745 million. Prior to the signing of letter of acceptance, Masango received on October 28 2015, from TCP and/or Trindade, an amount of R645 000 as a deposit towards a purchase of a house,” the document reads.
The Hawks have established that “during the period February 2015 to July 2017, TCP and/or related entities or persons paid approximately R30 million to bank accounts of Hlakudi Interpretation Service, Bon Service Telekom and Babinatlou Business Service for the benefit of Hlakudi and Masango”.
Investigators told Lebeya last week that their investigation “is 98% finalised and a provisional charge sheet has been provided by the prosecutors”.
“Currently,” they continued, “the charge sheet has one count of fraud, 41 counts for contravention of section 3(a) of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, and 12 counts of money laundering in contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. The following individuals and entities/suppliers involved will be arrested and charged, possibly any time before Friday 2019-12-20.”
The document lists the names of suspects as Hlakudi, Masango, TCP director Trindade, businessmen Hudson Kgomoeswana and Michael Harry Lomas, and private companies Hlakudi Translation and Interpretation, Bon Service Telekom and TCP.
According to a source within the Hawks, some of the business accounts were used for corruption and money laundering.
“The companies are listed as suspects and are being represented by their directors,” said a Hawks investigator privy to the details.
City Press has learnt that more arrests could follow as all the contracts at the power station are now being scrutinised.
Masango and Hlakudi, along with their co-accused, were arrested on Thursday after handing themselves over to the police. They appeared in the Johannesburg regional court on charges of fraud, bribery, money laundering and other alleged transgressions linked to TCP’s R1.2 billion contract with Kusile.