Koko hearing told Impulse CEO approached Mrs Koko to recruit her daughter

Johannesburg – In an effort to earn credits for Impulse International BEE scorecard, CEO Pragasen Pather approached Mrs [Mosima] Koko to get her daughter involved at the firm, a forensic investigator revealed.

Testifying on the second day of suspended Eskom executive Matshela Koko’s disciplinary hearing on Thursday evening, forensic investigator Annemarie Krugel revealed the findings of a probe conducted by Nkonki Incorporated earlier this year.

Nkonki Incorporated was commissioned by law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyer (CDH) to conduct a “fact-finding” and interviewing exercise relating to the conflict of interest that arose given Koko’s stepdaughter Koketso Choma’s involvement at a firm, Impulse International, that clinched R1bn worth of contracts awarded by Eskom. Koko allegedly failed to declare this interest.

Krugel spoke on the nature of the relationships which existed between Pather and Koko’s family.

The probe revealed that Pather had relations with Eskom in the past, but not Koko himself. They had met at a social “level”, but not for work or business purposes, she explained.

“The relationship was not with Koko, it was with the stepdaughter of Mr Koko,” said Krugel. Consultation with Mrs Koko revealed that she had met Pather in “late 2014, early 2015” and later introduced her daughter to Pather in March 2016.

Pather had expressed an interest in bringing Choma on board for BEE scoring purposes.

Consultation with Koko revealed that he was not aware of his daughter’s involvement at Impulse, and only found out in August/September 2016, said Krugel. “He spoke to her and her mother about the matter, he requested her to remove her shares and resign … According to Mr Koko the matter was dealt with.”

The investigation further revealed no evidence that Koko was involved in any commercial processes where Impulse International was appointed by Eskom, said Krugel. Answering a question posed by Eskom’s counsel Sebetja Matsaung said that Nkonki neither had evidence that Eskom found out about the conflict of interest before Koko declared it.

During his questioning, Koko’s counsel SC Frans Barrie asked Krugel whether Koko influenced the awarding of contracts to Impulse International, to which she replied: “We could not find in this investigation any evidence.”

It was further revealed that Koko was part of the tender committee for projects worth between R300m and R750m. His role in these committees was to “give input” and the decisions were not up to him to make, said Barrie.

Koko took steps

Barrie also described the circumstances in which Koko learned of his stepdaughter’s position and the actions he took thereafter.

Several times he made Krugel affirm that Choma resigned and relinquished her shareholding by Koko’s prompting.

By this action, the conflict of interest was terminated. “On the basis that Koko believed he had taken care of the problem, when his stepdaughter resigned in September 2016, then his inter-related parties ceased to exist and he did not have anything to declare,” said Barrie.

Although there was no longer a need for Koko to declare the conflict of interest, he still reported that it had existed and the matter was to then-CEO Brian Molefe in September 2016, said Barrie.

In the declaration Koko indicated his stepdaughter's position at Impulse International and her shareholding. He also clarified that he had no role in influencing contracts awarded by Eskom to Impulse International. 

‘Scurrilous’ media reports

Barrie slammed "scurrilous" media reports by the Sunday Times, owned by Tiso Blackstar Group, which added to the "perception" of conflict of interest in which Koko was implicated.

Reading out a headline 'How Eskom lavished his boss's daughter with R1bn in contracts', Barrie suggested to Krugel that it was "simply nonsense".

To this Krugel replied: "According to what we found, there was no proof that he was involved in the awarding of contracts to Impulse in the period of our investigation."

The hearing will commence on Friday afternoon, when Eskom is set to call more witnesses.

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