Ex-Glencore CEO lifts lid on Eskom tactics to force Optimum out of business

Clinton Ephron took the stand at the state capture inquiry on Wednesday and testified that Brian Molefe simply refused to negotiate a new contractual agreement with the mining company without giving reasons.

A screengrab of former Glencore CEO Clinton Ephron as he testifies at the Zondo commission of Inquiry into state capture in Pretoria on 27 February. Picture: YouTube.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Glencore CEO Clinton Ephron has told the state capture commission that he was shocked to find out the lengths to which Eskom and former Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane went to force Optimum Coal Mine out of business to enable the Guptas to buy it.

Ephron took the stand at the inquiry on Wednesday and testified that Brian Molefe simply refused to negotiate a new contractual agreement with the mining company without giving reasons.

This led to the company filing for business rescue and eventually bought by the controversial family.

Clinton Ephron has described how Eskom, under the leadership of Molefe, deliberately sabotaged Optimum Coal Mine to the point where the business couldn’t survive.

The commission’s Advocate Vincent Maleka: "[From] what you have told us, it is quite clear that Optimum coal transactions reflected an amount of pressure points brought to bear on Glencore."

Ephram says what Molefe and Eskom did was shocking.

"We were shocked by what came out subsequently in the Public Protector's report."

He also confirmed to the commission despite denials by Mosebenzi Zwane that the former minister flew to Switzerland to do the bidding for the Gupta family to take over Optimum Coal Mine.