Public enterprises minister Lynne Brown has been drawn into the saga around how the influential Gupta family acquired a mine that gained lucrative contracts from power utility Eskom.
The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism reported on EWN on Thursday that Brown had misled parliament when she was asked whether Eskom had signed any contracts with Trillian Capital Partners‚ a financial services company owned by Gupta associate Salim Essa.
It has been suggested that Trillian helped fund the Guptas’ purchase of Glencore-owned coal mine Optimum‚ which was allegedly squeezed out of business by Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and chairman Ben Ngubane‚ so that the Guptas’ Tegeta mining company could buy it.
Trillian has no formal stake in Tegeta‚ but another Essa-owned company‚ Elgasolve‚ became a 21.5% shareholder in Tegeta‚ amaBhungane said.
It reported that Brown was asked in December last year in parliament whether Trillian had concluded any contracts with Eskom.
Brown had replied: “None”‚ according to amaBhungane.
However‚ the centre said it had established that by then “Trillian or its subsidiary companies had already invoiced Eskom for R266-million.”
It is alleged that the R266-million was among a series of payments that were eventually channelled to Tegeta to help it pay the R2.15-billion price tag for the Optimum coal mine.
amaBhungane has established that Trillian companies invoiced Eskom for a total of about R419 million between April and mid-December last year‚ including:
• 14 April: R30.7-million for work on Eskom’s corporate plan
• 10 August: R113.3-million for management consulting
• 10 August: R122.2-million for financial advisory services
• 14 December: R152.8-million for management consulting.
Brown’s spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.