Ex-Eskom exec Naidoo: I didn’t know R1.6bn prepayment was going to Tegeta

He told the state capture commission on Wednesday that he didn’t ask what the board proposal meant by "proposed owners".

Former Eskom board member Pathmanathan Naidoo at the state capture commission on 10 February 2021. Picture: YouTube screengrab.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Eskom board member Pathmanathan Naidoo said when he approved the R1.6 billion prepayment to Optimum Coal Mine, he believed it was still owned by Glencore and not Gupta-linked Tegeta.

He told the state capture commission on Wednesday that he didn’t ask what the board proposal meant by "proposed owners".

The commission has heard previously that the payment was intended to be used by the Guptas for the acquisition of the mine.

READ: Tegeta didn't deliver coal on time after R659m prepayment from Eskom – Nteta

Naidoo said he was one of the board members who disagreed with Glencore's demands to increase coal supply prices.

He said he believed Glencore didn’t go to arbitration to fight for the increase because it knew it wouldn’t win.

But when the board received a new proposal to prepay for coal, he didn’t see anything wrong because it was standard practice.

Naidoo said he approved because he believed Glencore, not Tegeta, was proposing to secure electricity supply and jobs.

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Earlier, he said he first met Atul Gupta when he accompanied former President Thabo Mbeki on a state visit to India back in 2003.

Naidoo said all his interactions with Gupta were always public and official, never one-on-one.

“I was a member of the Eskom delegation that accompanied then-President Mbeki on his inaugural state visit in India. In India, Mr Atul Gupta introduced himself to us as an investor in South Africa and at that stage, he had launched Sahara.”

WATCH: The Commission hears Eskom related evidence - Pathmanathan Naidoo

ZONDO TROUBLED

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Wednesday said it was troubling that Eskom board members didn’t question who the proposed owners of Optimum Coal Mine were when they approved a R1.6 billion prepayment to the mine.

“It is troubling me that board members of such an important state entity know that they are being asked to authorise a very large amount – and they don’t take the trouble to make sure that they are authorising the conclusion of a contract with the right entity,” Zondo said.

Naidoo said: “The feedback that we received was the coal was procured, the coal was used to generate electricity and the prepayment has been completely absorbed – that was the feedback."

Naidoo said he was never given the details of who was supplying coal.

He has concluded his testimony.

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