ABB employees arrested for Eskom contract fraud released on bail

Two former ABB employees and their wives, who were arrested for the plundering of over R500-million in Eskom tenders have been released on bail, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Tuesday.

Mohammed and Raeesa Mooidheen, who were arrested in Middleburg, appeared at the Randburg magistrate’s court on Tuesday where they were granted bail of R50 000 and R30 000, respectively.

While Vernon and Aradhna Pillay, who were arrested in Durban, appeared at the Durban specialised crimes court and were released on bail of R20 000 each.

The two couples were concomitantly stripped of their electronic equipment during a joint search and seizure operation with Hawks and SARS.

Mohammed, Vernon and their wives were charged with corruption, fraud, and money laundering. They stand accused of defrauding Eskom through ABB [a multi-national engineering contractor headquartered in Switzerland] on contracts awarded to Impulse International for lucrative work at Eskom’s Kusile and Matla power plants.

Said NPA spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka on Tuesday: “The four are linked to the defrauding of Eskom through its contractor ABB and they stand accused of cashing in on gratifications estimated at R8.6 million, including cash and luxury cars, by inflating prices for Impulse, a subcontractor to ABB.

“The former ABB employees, Mohammed and Vernon, stand accused for their influence in the awarding of over R549.6 million of the Eskom-ABB contract, for the benefit of Impulse between the period 2015 to 2017. This is reportedly despite the fact that it was reported that Impulse did not actually qualify to do the work required.”

“This is deemed as one of the seminal matters that the NPA has referred to, for the reason that Eskom was really at the core of state capture and features prominently in the Zondo Commission Report, where executives at the most senior levels of the SOEs seemed to enable or facilitated for the looting of state funds,” Seboka added.

Reiterating the NPA’s stance and fight against corruption, Investigating Director Advocate Andrea Johnson said the Investigative Directorate is hard at work to bring those accused of State Capture to account.

“This is a clear demonstration of collaborative work between the ID, Hawks and SAPS and more seminal cases will be enrolled as we continue to reprioritise cases emanating from the Zondo Commission reports.

“The National Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Shamila Batohi, National Commissioner, General Fanie Masemola and Hawks head, General Lebeya met today to reinforce a working relationship among law enforcement and NPA in a bid to ensure that those most responsible for alleged corruption and state capture are held to account and that the rule of law is upheld,” said Johnson.

Eskom’s plight is highlighted in Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s State capture report where he revealed that over R15-billion dodgy deals were conducted at the state power utility during President Jacob Zuma’s nine-year tenure.

Zondo suggested that the former statesman facilitated looting and mismanagement at the power utility adding that Eskom entered into illegal contracts worth R14.7 billion with entities linked to the Gupta family.

Meanwhile, the Pretoria High Court last week ordered former Eskom boss Brian Molefe to pay back the money he looted from the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund after he resigned and took early retirement from Eskom after a ruling made in January 2018 that found that any monies Molefe received under any purported Eskom pension agreements were invalid.

Also read: Eskom executives benefitted from Guptas, shows Zondo report

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