Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

The R595m Eskom paid to formerly Gupta-linked Trillian Capital — as part of an allegedly criminal deal — has "disappeared"‚ making it impossible for the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) to recover the cash at present.

However, the state is still going after the R1bn Eskom paid to international consultancy firm McKinsey‚ after negotiations over the return of the money broke down.

Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe has stated that the dealings senior Eskom officials had with Trillian — including "sending confidential information to Trillian representatives‚ conducting private meetings, and accepting holidays in Dubai" — "have all the hallmarks of corruption".

Eskom is now seeking to overturn its "master service agreement" with McKinsey and Trillian‚ and argues that the R1.6bn in payments it made to the consultancy firms were unlawful. McKinsey has maintained it is prepared to pay back the money‚ "should a court order be made".

In papers filed at the Pretoria High Court on Wednesday‚ AFU head of operations Knorx Molelle applied for the forfeiture of the R1bn paid by Eskom to McKinsey on the basis that it is the proceeds of crime. He said the AFU agrees that this money must be paid back to Eskom‚ as it was the "victim" of the alleged crime.

"To date, and notwithstanding the curator’s endeavours to locate and secure the amount of R595m, paid by Eskom to Trillian‚ the curator bonis‚ it [has] not succeeded in locating the said property‚" Molelle said.

He confirmed that the AFU had been engaged in settlement discussions with McKinsey over the return of the R1bn — a process he said was "driven by the broader public interest to ensure the return to Eskom of the funds paid by it to McKinsey‚ as quickly as possible".

"Unfortunately‚ three settlement discussions have reached an impasse‚" he said‚ adding that it was therefore necessary for the AFU to seek the forfeiture of the money, and avoid the lapsing of a previous court order‚ which froze the money. He argued that the money should be forfeited‚ according to the provisions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act‚ on the basis of evidence that "rationally and reasonably demonstrates the property is the proceeds of unlawful activity".

He said it is "evident" that McKinsey "has come to the realisation that it was not fully entitled to the said payment‚ hence the attempt at settlement". As a result‚ Molelle argued‚ McKinsey cannot "legitimately" oppose an order that the R1bn be forfeited‚ and returned to Eskom.

No date for the hearing of the forfeiture proceedings has been set yet.