Eskom has contract with Trillian despite its denial, documents show

Johannesburg - Eskom allocated a contract number to Trillian Capital Partners, a company to which it said it has made “unlawful” payments, according to documents seen by Bloomberg. Eskom has consistently denied that it has ever held a formal agreement with the company.

The state-owned power utility said on Thursday it will ask McKinsey & Co and Trillian, which served as the US consulting firm’s local partner in a contract with Eskom, to return R1.564bn it says it paid in total to both of the firms.

Most of the R564m paid to Trillian was transferred after McKinsey terminated its relationship with the company in March 2016, according to the documents. McKinsey, which received R1bn, was concerned about the lack of transparency about Trillian’s shareholders and their potential conflicts of interest, it said in a March 30, 2016 letter to Eskom seen by Bloomberg.

“There was never any contract with them, however what Eskom has acknowledged is that we have somehow made payments to Trillian even though they don’t have a contract with us,” Khulu Phasiwe, Eskom’s spokesperson, said by phone. Eskom is investigating how it made the payments, he said.

Eskom documents seen by Bloomberg show payments of almost R419m were made to Trillian. Trillian was described as a vendor and its contract number was 4600061892, the documents show. One of the payments was made on the same day it was billed, while another two payments took three days. Decisions taken by Eskom on dealings with McKinsey and Trillian and the resultant payments were “unlawful,” the utility said on Thursday in a statement.

Eskom suspended Anoj Singh, its chief financial officer, in late September after placing him on special leave in July following the CFO being linked to a series of questionable deals including those with Trillian. Singh referred questions to Eskom when contacted by Bloomberg.

Trillian’s spokesperson didn’t return phone calls and emails seeking comment. On October 2, Trillian said it completed all the work allocated to it by McKinsey and billed for work authorised by Eskom. It didn’t say who it billed. Documents seen by Bloomberg show it billed Eskom.

“McKinsey did not authorise any payment made by Eskom to Trillian and such payments were made after McKinsey informed Eskom that Trillian failed its due diligence,” McKinsey said in a statement responding to Eskom’s announcement on Thursday.

The company said it couldn’t comment on whether there was a contract between Trillian and Eskom.

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