Koko probe: Eskom board mulling report before briefing Brown

Cape Town – The Eskom board has received the Cliffe Decker Hofmeyr report, which investigated a potential conflict of interest regarding former acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko.

"The board is currently interrogating the report and will thereafter make a recommendation to the Minister (of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown)," Eskom board spokesperson Khulani Qoma told Fin24 on Monday.

Koko, who is head of generation at Eskom, was relieved of his acting chief executive duties when Brian Molefe returned briefly in May. He was then placed on leave pending the report.

The investigation follows a report in the Sunday Times on 26 March 2017, which revealed that Koko’s stepdaughter, Koketso Choma, was a director at Impulse International when it netted at least R1bn in contracts from Eskom in just 11 months.

Choma, who was appointed as a director at Impulse three years after graduating, lives in the same house as Koko.

READ: Matshela Koko's stepdaughter nets R1bn in Eskom contracts

Eskom chairperson Dr Ben Ngubane resigned last week ahead of the power utility’s annual general meeting this Friday, where Brown is expected to rotate the board.

The board currently consists of acting chairperson Zethembe Khoza and four non-executive directors: Pat Naidoo, Chwayita Mabude and Giovanni Leonardi.

Public Enterprises spokesperson Colin Cruywagen told Fin24 on Monday that a minimum of three board members are required to ensure a quorum is maintained, meaning it can make its recommendations to Brown this week.

This was confirmed by Qoma."The board needs a minimum of three members and the current board has four non-executive board members."

Brown is only expected to make a decision on the report next week, as she focuses on getting new board members and a new chairperson approved by Cabinet.

Koko’s future at Eskom is not looking good, especially as he is caught up in the #GuptaLeaks. Emails have revealed that he stayed in a luxury Dubai hotel at the Guptas’ expense.

“In December 2015 the Guptas’ Tegeta Exploration and Resources lobbied Koko for a massive R1.68bn prepayment, which would have allowed it to fund much of the Optimum Coal acquisition,” Daily Maverick revealed.

READ: News Gupta emails confirm family’s extravagant Dubai palace

“While this appears not to have happened, it is known that Koko headed up a late-night meeting in April 2016 that approved a smaller, R659m prepayment.”

The Cliffe Decker Hofmeyr investigation occurred after the Eskom board agreed on 28 March 2017 to undertake a forensic and legal investigation “following the well-published allegations” against Koko.

“The allegations in the public domain have a corrosive impact on the social standing of Eskom, as a brand, as well as its entire leadership,” Ngubane said in a statement at the time.

“As board, we have a constitutional mandate to probe these allegations, with a view to getting to the unassailable truth of the situation.”

Ngubane said Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr was instructed to conduct a forensic and legal investigation in respect of the various articles concerning the potential conflict of interest relating to Mr Matshela Koko’s stepdaughter’s shareholding in Impulse International.

“The objective of the investigation,” Dr Ngubane explained, “will be to ascertain whether the allegations can be corroborated and/or substantiated by evidence including real and/or documentary evidence.”

He said Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr will be appointing an independent auditing firm to assist with the forensic investigation.

“This process will facilitate a fitting response to … Brown, who has asked the board to address the matter as swiftly as possible,” said Ngubane.

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