Eskom contractor sought for Kusile corruption case arrested in the UK, released on R1.7m bail

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  • The arrest of Michael Lomas, paves the way for his extradition to face prosecution in the Kusile power station corruption scandal.
  • The project was hit by cost escalation and Eskom paid R745 million to Lomas' Tubular Construction Projects.
  • Lomas had not co-operated with the local law enforcement to stand trial with his co-accused.

Michael Lomas, the former director of Tubular Construction and one of the people implicated in the corruption scandal involving the construction of the Kusile power station has been arrested in London, the National Prosecuting Authority's Investigating Directorate said on Friday.

Lomas is among several former Eskom managers who are going to be prosecuted for their role in the Kusile scandal, and the arrest paves the way for his extradition. Tubular Construction was one of the contractors in the Kusile project and has been fingered in bribery claims involving those former managers at the state-owned power utility. 

According to the Investigating Directorate, Lomas, who is a UK citizen, was arrested on 15 April in London and appeared before the Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday.

"The arrest and appearance emanates from months of talks with the UK authorities about the fraud and corruption case where Eskom paid R745 million to Tubular Construction Projects," it said.

"This exposed the state-owned entity to R1.4 billion as per the escalation of the contract."

His arrest sets the motion for his extradition to face prosecution along side former Eskom managers, Frans Hlakudi, Abram Masango, businessman Maphoko Kgomoeswana and Tubular Construction CEO Antonio Trindade.  Their case is set to be heard in the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court on 1 June. According to the prosecution, Masango and Hlakudi allegedly pocketed R30 million each in bribes from contractors Trindade and Lomas.  

READ: Eskom names contractors in R4 billion Kusile overpayment

The NPA said Lomas had never co-operated with the South African law enforcement and that his arrest in England was in line with the UK extradition court processes, which require him to appear in the British courts before an extradition could take place.

It added that "only after the matter has been ventilated there, will the court decide whether or not to extradite him back into South Africa."

"Our main focus this year is dealing with corruption in Eskom and Transnet, we will do so with vigour to ensure that those implicated accounts," said Hermione Cronje, the head of the Investigating Authority.

Lomas, who is out on bail equivalent to R 1.7 million, with stringent travel conditions, is expected to return to court on 20 May.

The arrest has been welcomed by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), which worked with the NPA and the Hawks in uncovering the evidence that led to criminal charges being opened against the five men in the case.

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the unit was in 2018 tasked with investigating the procurement of services by Eskom and payments made in the Kusile project.

Tubular was initially appointed as a second-tier sub-contractor in 2009 to help construct the air-cooled condensers (ACC)  at Kusile’s six power generation units. Alstom held the main contract for the ACC works. Tubular had been contracted by one of Alstom’s sub-contractors.

In July 2020,  Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan revealed that construction companies ABB South Africa, Stefanutti Stocks and Basil Read Joint Venture, as well as Tubular Construction Projects were some of the contractors that benefited from overpayments totalling R4 billion in the construction of Kusile power station.

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