South Africa 2.12.2016 05:39 pm

Eskom ‘opportunist’ sentenced to 15 years behind bars

Photo: Supplied

Photo: Supplied

Dawid Malherbe was convicted of fraud and money laundering.

An “opportunist” who embezzled Eskom to the tune of R10,2 million, was sentenced on Friday to 15 years imprisonment.

Dawid Johannes Malherbe, 63, of Harbour Island, Gordons Bay, appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg, who sentenced him on charges of fraud involving R10,2 million, and money laundering.

His defence team, advocate Reuben Liddell and attorney Keith Gess, have filed an application for leave to appeal both convictions and sentence, to be heard on Tuesday.

At their request, Malherbe’s R10,000 bail was extended to Tuesday.

In her judgment, delivered in June, the magistrate referred to Malherbe as an “opportunist”.

The charge sheet cited Malherbe as accused number two, and the company that he formed with intent to defraud Eskom, Energy Utility Services (EUS), as accused number one.

Both Malherbe and EUS were found guilty of both charges.

On each charge, Malherbe was sentenced to 10 years, but the court ordered that five years of the sentence for money laundering, run concurrently with the 10 years for fraud. Effectively, this meant jail for 15 years, she said.

On the fraud charge, the company itself was fined R600,000, and a further R400,000 on the money laundering charge. Both fines were suspended for five years.

Malherbe was also declared unfit to possess a firearm – routine practice for anyone found guilty of an offence involving dishonesty.

According to the charge sheet, Eskom entered into a joint venture 23 years ago with the companies Electricite de France Internationale SA, and East Midlands Electricity, to supply Khayelitsha in Cape Town with electricity.

In the process, a third company was launched, Phambili Nombane Energy Services (PNES), based in Bellville, as an Eskom subsidiary.

The PNES board of directors comprised personnel seconded from Eskom, who remained in the employ of Eskom and were subjected to Eskom’s policies and procedures. Among them was Malherbe, the managing director.

In early 2008, Eskom decided to de-corporatise PNES, to turn PNES into a separate legal entity, and no longer an Eskom subsidiary.

Malherbe was duty bound to ensure that his personal and business interests did not conflict with PNES or Eskom.

The PNES Integration Team (PIT) was established, to expedite the de-corporatisation processes.

Malherbe was aware that once de-corporatisation was finalised, he would no longer be MD of PNES.

However, he needed an opportunity that would enable him to continue obtaining an income from the PNES services – thus bringing his personal interests into conflict with Eskom and PNES.

Malherbe was aware that PIT needed certain PNES services to be outsourced, and he saw this as an opportunity to contract with Eskom.

In order to achieve this, he registered EUS, with himself as the sole director.

The court ruled that Malherbe deliberately misled the PNES board on the BEE status of EUS, as it was wholly owned and controlled by himself.

In this manner, he fraudulently induced the PNES board to approve the outsourcing of services to EUS.

– African News Agency

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