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How Koko and family raked in the cash

Documents reveal wife's role in milking millions from Eskom

25 February 2018 - 00:01 By KYLE COWAN, MZILIKAZI wa AFRIKA and SABELO SKITI
Matshela Koko
Matshela Koko
Image: Esa Alexander

New evidence shows that the wife of former Eskom executive Matshela Koko received millions of rands via a company awarded contracts by the power utility.

Documents in the possession of state capture investigators suggest the money flowed to companies where Koko's wife, Mosima, is a director.

It was channelled through Eskom service provider Impulse International, where Mosima's 27-year-old daughter, Koketso Choma, was a nonexecutive director. The Sunday Times reported last March that Impulse raked in contracts worth about R1-billion from Eskom after Choma joined the company on April 1 2016.

Koko, who resigned as Eskom's head of generation last week, previously claimed he did not know his stepdaughter was a director at Impulse when the company was awarded a string of Eskom contracts.

Documents in possession of the NPA and the Hawks and seen by the Sunday Times reveal that Choma's company, Ukwakhiwa Investments, was paid at least R15.1-million by Impulse between September 2016 and February 2017.

Between November 2016 and August 2017, Ukwakhiwa paid R11.5-million to High Echelon Trading 94, where Mosima is the sole director. From High Echelon at least R2.5-million was paid in various transactions in connection with a property Mosima is developing in Middelburg, Mpumalanga. A further R1.2-million flowed to Turnkey Finishings, Mosima's property development business.

In June last year, law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr produced an 86-page report on allegations that Koko had arranged contracts to Impulse for personal financial gain through Choma.

Impulse director Pragasen Pather admitted paying R16-million to Ukwakhiwa in a R38-million loan agreement "he had to pay as part of his 45% shareholding of Ukwakhiwa through another company, Indiziwe Construction", according to the CDH report.

But the report said CDH was never provided with any documentation to support Pather's claim.

The new documents show Pather paid the amount in a series of transactions from the Impulse cheque account to Ukwakhiwa's FNB business account.

According to the CDH report and other documents, Impulse was awarded nine Eskom contracts worth R380-million after Choma became a director.

"Most of the contracts awarded to Impulse International were either emergency or sole-sourcing contracts, without a tender process having been followed," the CDH report said.

"It seems rather too coincidental that after Choma became involved with Impulse International, the number of contracts it acquired from Eskom had gone from an initial contract [concluded during 2014] to a further nine contracts with a total combined value of R380-million.

"In addition, there would have been the substantial subcontracts, in excess of R260-million, which were awarded to Impulse after Choma became involved with Impulse International," it said.

Most of the contracts awarded to Impulse International were either emergency or sole-sourcing contracts, without a tender process having been followed

Choma was registered as a director of Ukwakhiwa on March 23 2016, nine days before joining Impulse. Her company was registered only a month earlier. Sources said this suggested it was created specifically to receive funds from Impulse.

In April last year the Sunday Times revealed that Koko and Pather had been in telephone contact at least 52 times between April and November 2016.

Both men denied knowing each other until they were confronted with phone records. Koko then said that as an Eskom executive he regularly spoke to service providers. Pather said Koko had asked for assistance with load-shedding.

The Sunday Times reported that:

  • On April 1 2016, the day Choma joined Impulse, Koko phoned Pather at 7.58pm;
  • On August 1 2016, three weeks before Impulse was awarded two contracts worth almost R100-million, Koko called Pather. He called him again two days after the contracts were finalised, on August 22; and
  • Koko called Pather again two days before a R300-million contract relating to Kusile power station was finalised.

Koko, his wife, Choma and Pather failed to respond to questions about the payments by Impulse.

New evidence of Koko's involvement in the R1.6-billion McKinsey/Trillian debacle at Eskom has also been uncovered by lawyers who examined his laptop in preparation for a disciplinary hearing.

The Sunday Times has reliably learnt that e-mails retrieved by Bowman Gilfillan show Koko discussed Eskom financial initiatives with Regiments Capital employees, including Eric Wood, who later left to launch Trillian.

Wood, who has been linked to the Gupta family via their associate Salim Essa, discussed these initiatives with former McKinsey executive Vikas Sagar in a scheme to siphon about R9-billion in fees from Eskom.

Eskom executives and a former board member have questioned how Trillian and McKinsey obtained confidential Eskom financial information, but the latest e-mails show that it came from Koko, former chief financial officer Anoj Singh and other senior Eskom employees.

Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said the e-mail evidence would be made available to parliament as well as any law enforcement agencies that requested it.

Koko's attorney, Asger Gani, did not respond to questions but made available an extract of Koko's intended plea to the disciplinary hearing aborted by his resignation. In it he pleads not guilty to misleading parliament, being negligent in his work, and conducting himself in a manner that is in contradiction to Eskom's values and ethics.