Koko washes hands of Trillian, says Daniels made Trillian payments

Eskom executive Matshela Koko. (File photo: Gallo Images)
Eskom executive Matshela Koko. (File photo: Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Under-fire Eskom executive Matshela Koko on Tuesday hit back at suspended Eskom company secretary and head of legal Suzanne Daniels, saying she had spearheaded controversial payments to global consultancy firm McKinsey and Gupta-linked Trillian.

Koko is set to appear before the parliamentary inquiry into the extent of state capture at Eskom on Wednesday.

In his submission, he alleges it was Daniels who was "pivotally" involved in procuring payment of R460m directly to Trillian, when he in his capacity as interim CEO had on more than one occasion declined the requested payment.

He refutes Daniels testimony to the committee that he played a role in procuring payment to Trillian Management Consulting “in circumstances where Eskom had no contract with Trillian and the payments were irregular”. Koko alleged the statements, which were also contained in a “report” submitted to Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown, were lies.

Daniels told Fin24 that she reserved comment on Koko’s allegations until his testimony is presented in Parliament.

"I have had the opportunity to peruse Matshela Koko’s statement,” she said. “Suffice it to say, I stand by my testimony in Parliament insofar as it pertains to Matshela Koko. I will reserve further comment "

'Pure fabrication'

Daniels’ testimony attributing responsibility to him for Eskom’s payments to Trillian is pure fabrication, Koko said in the submission. He had at the very outset, when Trillian became involved with McKinsey at the beginning of 2016, refused that Trillian’s invoices be paid by Eskom and declined to sanction such payments.

“I deny knowledge of how exactly the payments to Trillian were authorised or processed,” he said.

Last week a strongly worded founding affidavit by Motlalekhotso Molelle, an acting special director at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and head of operations at the asset forfeiture unit, said payments Eskom made to McKinsey and Trillian were criminal and involved fraud, theft, corruption and money laundering.

The payments were also a deliberate and fraudulent circumvention of Eskom’s supply management processes, he stated. Further affidavits from the NPA allege that McKinsey addressed a letter instructing Eskom to pay Trillian directly, knowing that no valid contract existed between them, that Trillian did not render any services to justify the payment and that Trillian was not a legitimate service provider. 

In October last year, Eskom said in a statement it was seeking the cooperation of McKinsey and Trillian in returning amounts of R1bn and R564m respectively “which appear(s) to have been unlawfully paid out in 2016 and 2017”. McKinsey said it was ready to cooperate and pay back the money.

Mounting pressure

Koko is under renewed pressure as fellow implicated executive Anoj Singh resigned at Eskom as part of a clean sweep at the utility. But the Eskom executive is still resisting efforts to leave.

Koko strongly denies in his submission that he was involved in the approval of the now controversial payments Eskom made to Trillian. He did not approve any such payments and first learnt that direct payment had been made to Trillian through the press, he stated. 

Koko also alleged Daniels played an instrumental role in instigating and promoting the process that led to his special leave in May 2017 and suspension in August 2017, pending the disciplinary hearing that eventually took place.

Fin24 reported early in January that Koko was reinstated as Eskom's head of generation after a period of suspension.

He faced a disciplinary hearing over allegedly not declaring a conflict of interest while his stepdaughter Koketso Choma was a director at Impulse International, a firm which benefited from about R1bn worth of contracts awarded by Eskom over 11 months. Koko was found not guilty at the disciplinary hearing.

Refused to pay invoices

In his submission he related his side of what happened in the Trillian controversy.

Koko said representatives of Trillian, acting on McKinsey’s behalf, started participating "in functions executed by McKinsey" from some time at the beginning of 2016. Trillian then submitted an invoice for R30.6m directly to Eskom early in February 2016.  

Koko alleges he was not aware of it at the time, but became aware of it on February 10 2016 during an “emotional” meeting he had at the time with Trillian CEO Bianca Goodson.

Koko can’t recall how the meeting was arranged, but said an emotional Goodson used the meeting as an opportunity to complain to him. Her perception was that McKinsey was sidelining Trillian in relation to the consultancy functions Eskom was supposed to execute on the McKinsey contracts.

Koko said he explained to her that if her complaints were justified, it was a matter between McKinsey and Trillian. Goodson also requested at the meeting that Eskom should pay the invoice that had been submitted directly to Trillian, according to Koko’s submission.

She also asked that he should agree that future invoices be submitted to Eskom directly and paid directly to Trillian.

Koko said that about a year later, during February 2017, he was again confronted with a request that direct payment be made to Trillian, this time R460m. This occurred in terms of a memorandum, dated February 17 2017, supported among others by Daniels, who recommended and requested that he approve the direct to “McKinsey & Company and the BBBEE partner”.

He didn’t specify who the partner was.

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