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Eskom denies paying millions to help Guptas secure coal mine

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JOHANNESBURG - Eskom has denied allegations it paid a Gupta-linked firm millions of rand to help the family secure a coal mine.

Evidence has emerged of how the parastatal may have funneled money to Trillian to help the Guptas buy the Optimum mine from resources giant Glencore.

In an amaBhungane exclusive on EWN, it's been revealed that Trillian invoiced Eskom for a total of R419 million in 2016, during a time when the controversial family was struggling to come up with the funds to buy Optimum.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown appears to have misled Parliament about the working relationship between the power utility and Trillian.

Amabhungane has confirmed that Trillian companies invoiced Eskom a total of R419 million over a period of just nine months last year.

Trillian apparently billed the power utility for work done on its corporate plan, management consulting, financial advisory services and management consulting and considering that Trillian formally started operating in March 2016, this equates to an incredible innings of over R1.4 million per day.

The Public Protector's State of Capture report shows that a number of firms contributed to the R2.15 billion that Gupta-controlled Tegeta had to pay for the Optimum coal mine. This included R235 million from Trillian and its subsidiaries, an allegation Trillian has repeatedly denied without giving details.

In December, Brown told Parliament that there were no contracts in place between Eskom and Trillian.

Brown also confidently declared in Parliament in April that load shedding was a thing of the past, two weeks before Eskom agreed to a R659 million prepayment to Tegeta for "production requirements".

Eskom CEO Brian Molefe defended his decision for the prepayment, saying it was at a time when the country was at risk of loadshedding.

The Guptas - although declaring they had the necessary finance for the mine - were at least R600 million short.

A recent draft report from a year-long National Treasury investigation also shows that there's no evidence that Optimum or Tegeta used the funds to procure any equipment.

This suggests that it was used for the purchase price.

Read the full investigative report by amaBhungane here.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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