Court dismisses bid by ex-Eskom manager Hlakudi to have tax fraud charges dropped

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Frans Hlakudi
Frans Hlakudi
Deaan Vivier
  • Frans Hlakudi, a former Eskom senior manager for capital contracts, is facing 44 counts of tax fraud-related charges.
  • He is also also set to appear in the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court on 1 June in a R745 million corruption case related to Eskom's Kusile Power Station.
  • Hlakudi resigned from Eskom in November 2017.

Former Eskom senior manager Frans Hlakudi has failed in his bid to have some of the tax fraud charges he is facing dropped.

On Thursday, Magistrate Adriaan Bekker in the Pretoria Regional Court dismissed Hlakudi's application to have the fraud rap struck from the 44 fraud and tax evasion-related charges he is facing.

The decision paves the way for authorities to move ahead with his prosecution on fraud and tax evasion charges amounting to R30 million. Hlakudi is expected back in court on 24 May.

The charges relate to his personal tax affairs and his companies Hlakudi Translation and Interpretation, Coxinel Chicken and Bon Services Telcom. The funds were received between 2015 and 2018.

"The ruling handed down in the Pretoria Regional Court allows the Investigating Directorate, working with SARS, to swiftly proceed with the matter of fraud and tax evasion of R30 million against former Eskom senior manager for capital contracts," the Investigating Directorate said in a statement.

Hlakudi, who is also also set to appear in the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court on 1 June in a R745 million corruption case related to Eskom's Kusile Power Station, declined to comment on Bekker's ruling.

In the Kusile matter, Hlakudi is charges alongside former Eskom group executive for capital, Abram Masango, businessman Maphoko Kgomoeswana and Tubular Construction CEO Antonio Trindade. They face charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering, offering unauthorised gratifications and receiving unauthorised gratification.

The charge sheet also shows a long list of undeclared income, including a number of payments from Tubular Construction projects in 2016 and 2017. Hlakudi resigned from Eskom with immediate effect in November 2017, as the power utility launched a probe into allegations of irregular payments to Tubular Construction Projects, a subcontractor at its Kusile power station in Mpumalanga.

The Investigating Directorate had said the former board chairperson of Tubular Construction, Michael Lomas, who is currently living in the UK, would be extradited to stand trial with the four.

44 charges

According to the prosecution, Masango and Hlakudi allegedly pocketed R30 million each in bribes from contractors Trindade and Lomas.  

Hlakudi's lengthy charge sheet has 44 counts of fraud and tax evasion-related charges. The first count stems from tax filing for the 2016 tax year, where he accused of acting with the intent to defraud SARS when submitting his personal income tax return.

It is said that he only declared his salary from Eskom as his only income and omitted to divulge the extra income earned from his company Hlakudi Translation and Interpretation.

He is also accused of acting with intent to defraud the revenue service by claiming that his other company, Bon Service Telekom, was not earning an income and not required to file a tax return. The same modus operandi was applied for his other business entity, Coxinel Chicken. 

He is accused to have "wilfully and without just cause failed to submit his personal income tax return" as required by the law.

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