A whistleblower on Friday told the parliamentary inquiry into Eskom the power utility settled a fraudulent invoice from Trillian for R30.6 million.
Former Trillian Management Consulting (TMC) chief executive Bianca Goodson said she found her signature on a cover letter to the invoice that was sent to Anoj Singh, Eskom’s chief financial officer, who was suspended following allegations of improper payments to companies linked to the politically connected Gupta brothers.
It is my impression that I was not employed for my competence
She did not compile the invoice, nor did she write the cover letter, Goodson said. She was adamant that there was no reason to remunerate TMC, an affiliate of Trillian Capital Partners, as it had only one other employee and no capacity to deliver on a big contract, yet the sum was paid to Trillian.
“I did not do that work and my CFO did not do that work. We did no billable work. We were establishing the company,” she told Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises, which is the conducting the inquiry.
Goodson said she quit Trillian in 2016 after just two and half months with the company, disabused of the notion that it would be a “proudly black consulting firm”.
“It is my impression that I was not employed for my competence,” she said.
She said she discovered there was no intention for the company to develop capacity, instead its role appeared to secure contracts with the State for companies like consulting firm McKinsey and earn large sums for doing very little work.
“It was created to simply get 50 percent of certain revenues,” Goodson said, when questioned by MPs about the modus operandi of the company.
She said she had been instructed to open an account with the Bank of Baroda and hand over signing power to somebody else. She added that she never saw money come in or go out of the account.
Her testimony corroborated that of another Trillian whistleblower Mosilo Mothepu, who told the inquiry earlier this week that staff were informed that former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene would be fired, some six weeks before it happened in December 2015.
Like Mothepu, she said she was informed that Mohamad Bobat, a former employee at Trillian Capital Partners, would become the advisor to the new finance minister, Des van Rooyen, who President Jacob Zuma was forced to replace after a mere four days following an outcry over Nene’s sacking.
According to Mothepu, staff at Trillian were told that Van Rooyen’s arrival at National Treasury and Bobat’s placement would secure more lucrative contracts for the company.
Goodson on Friday said that a large percentage of money that flowed to Trillian through State contracts was channeled to sub-contractors, notably to a company called Gateway, based in Dubai.
Goodson gave evidence to former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela while she conducted an inquiry into state capture, which found that Eskom appeared to have gone to extraordinary lengths to facilitate a lucrative coal supply contract for the Guptas’s Tegeta Exploration.
On Thursday, Economic Freedom Fighters chief whip Floyd Shivambu said though the family has nominally sold Tegeta they remain in control of the company and continue to benefit from the contract for the Optimum coal mine to supply Eskom.
He urged Parliament to intervene to ensure the deal was cancelled, given the dire state of Eskom’s finances and the consequences for the economy if it were to default on government-guaranteed debt.