Five important things Geoff Budlender found in his probe of Trillian Capital
Chairman Tokyo Sexwale has confirmed his intention to step down after the tabling of the report — which raises troubling questions about Eskom, Lynne Brown, Zuma and the Guptas
Advocate Geoff Budlender on Thursday released his investigation report into allegations of state capture stemming from a whistleblower at Gupta-linked company‚ Trillian Capital Partners.
The majority shareholder is close Gupta family ally Salim Essa‚ who owns 60% of Trillian.
Trillian’s nonexecutive independent chairman, Tokyo Sexwale, briefed the media and confirmed his earlier intention to step down from the company as soon as Budlender tabled his report.
Here are some of the key findings you should know:
• The whistle-blower was right: Budlender found that in his view‚ the version of events supplied by the former Trillian CEO turned whistle-blower was true.
He said it raises the "very troubling question" as to how information about how President Jacob Zuma was going to exercise his constitutional prerogative came to be in the hands of a private company — and particularly where the information was "commercially very sensitive".
The whistle-blower told former public protector Thuli Madonsela that she was told by Trillian CEO Eric Wood two months before former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene was fired in December 2015 that Zuma would do so.
• Did Minister Lynn Browne lie to Parliament? In a reply to parliamentary questions from the DA‚ Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said no money was paid to Trillian Capital Partners for the Duva power plant insurance claim.
She said Eskom did not appoint Trillian Capital Partners to negotiate the settlement for the Duva claim nor did Eskom appoint Trillian Capital Partners to source a new supplier to replace the exploded boiler at the power plant.
"There was no need to appoint any external party to assist with the sourcing‚" Brown’s response read.
Budlender said in his report that Trillian produced‚ at his request‚ three invoices addressed to Eskom‚ all of which were stamped paid.
One was for R30.6m from Trillian Management Capital‚ a 100% subsidiary of Trillian Capital Holdings.
Two other invoices were for R122.2m and another for R113.2m by the same entities.
Some of the invoices were itemised as "services rendered" for financial advice for Eskom initiatives‚ including Duva and procurement.
"The information Brown gave to parliament was‚ depending the view you take of it‚ false or seriously misleading‚" Budlender wrote.
• No tenders‚ no contracts but lots of money: Budlender found that Trillian had never tendered for the work it was paid for and no contract existed between Trillian and Eskom — but the company was paid more than R250m.
"An amount in excess of R250m was paid to Trillian Management Capital. Trillian Management Capital is a subsidiary of Trillian Capital Partners‚" he said.
Budlender also states that Trillian refused to provide him with information on what work it had done for Eskom to justify the payments.
He also notes that it appears virtually all of the work Trillian invoiced for was actually done by Regiments Capital.
• Trillian management tried to obstruct the investigation: Budlender has slammed the management of Trillian Capital Partners, who he says "obstructed" his investigation.
"The conduct of Trillian Management in this inquiry has left me with the impression that what it says cannot be trusted‚" Budlender writes.
Trillian management‚ he said‚ tried to put an end to the inquiry twice.
• Trillian disputing Gupta link "dishonest": Budlender said that assertions by Trillian that the Gupta family has no links to the company or other companies that are part of the group are ‘dishonest’.
"The connections between Mr Essa [Trillian’s majority shareholder] and the Guptas must be known to the leadership of Trillian‚ as it is known to anyone in South Africa who reads a newspaper‚" Budlender wrote.
"Under the circumstances‚ the assertion in Trillian Capital Partners’ media release that the Gupta family ‘has no link to Trillian Holdings or to any of the other constituent members of the Trillian group of companies’ was at best misleading and in my opinion was in fact dishonest."
"The Gupta family does have such a link through its close association with Mr Essa‚" Budlender’s report reads.