Stinky Eskom appointment of Gupta deployed Pamensky suddenly smelling worse

As we’ve suggested before. when you’re in a hole, best to stop digging. Because going deeper risks exposing even more muck. Which is precisely what Eskom’s spokesman Khulu Phasiwe did today when answering queries raised by Fin24 following our story this morning on the bizarre appointment of Gupta partner and Oakbay director Mark Pamensky to the Eskom board. Instead of a believable “Damn, we need to look into this,” Phasiwe steadfastly defends Pamensky’s appointment maintaining everything is above board. Which apart from what makes him so special, begs some other obvious questions: If it’s all so rosy, why no mention of his Oakbay directorship in the official Eskom bio; and why did Pamensky himself not disclose his Oakbay involvement to his employers Blue Label – especially as we now discover it happened three months before he applied for the JSE-listed company board’s permission to accept Minister Lynne Brown’s invitation to join Eskom’s directorate. Blue Label joint-CEO Brett Levy says he only found out about Pamensky’s Oakbay directorship long after the event (and, indeed, post the Eskom appointment). All of this stinks to high heaven. South Africans are not mushrooms. Eskom’s spokesman should not treat them as such. – Alec Hogg

From Fin24

Cape Town – Mark Pamensky was appointed to the Eskom board three months after joining the board of Gupta-owned Oakbay Resources and Energy, Eskom revealed on Tuesday.

The Eskom website describes Pamensky as group operations officer of Blue Label Telecoms, which he isn’t, while there is no mention of him being a director at Oakbay, which he is, BizNews publisher Alec Hogg disclosed on Tuesday.

An Eskom branded flag, right, flies alongside the South African national flag outside the headquarters for Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., South Africa’s state-owned electricity utility at Megawatt Park in Sandton, near Johannesburg, South Africa. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg
An Eskom branded flag, right, flies alongside the South African national flag outside the headquarters for Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., South Africa’s state-owned electricity utility at Megawatt Park in Sandton, near Johannesburg, South Africa. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Fin24 checked both Eskom and Oakbay’s websites, which confirm he is an independent non-executive director on Eskom and Oakbay’s boards. Eskom’s website said he has “experience in effecting turnaround strategies”.

Defending his appointment, Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe told Fin24 that Pamensky was appointed to the Eskom board in December 2014 and Oakbay Resources and Energy’s board three months earlier in September 2014. Eskom was informed of his departure from Blue Labels, he said.

“Mr Pamensky’s interests, as with all directors on the Eskom board, are managed in terms of the legal and governance requirements relating to disclosure of personal financial interests,” said Phasiwe.

“Eskom is confident that it has a robust system and processes in place to ensure that actual, potential and perceived conflicts of interest of all its directors and employees are managed effectively.”

Read also: Bizarre case of Mark Pamensky the Gupta appointee to Eskom’s board

Does this compromise Eskom?

Hogg queried the dual board membership, saying the investigation into state capture should start with a probe into this relationship.

“Oakbay’s own bios of its directors describe Pamensky as ‘currently employed’ as Blue Label’s COO (chief operating officer), a position he resigned from last November,” Hogg explained. “When leaving, Pamensky told Blue Label’s co-CEO Brett Levy he was setting up his own property development company. Instead, he moved into Guptaland.

“With three other CAs (chartered accountants) on Eskom’s board, his appointment makes no sense. Even less when you discover Pamensky is also a director of the Gupta mothership company Oakbay, whose recently expanded coal operations have a single major client – Eskom.”

Eskom is buying coal for its Arnot power plant from Optimum, which is being bought by Oakbay’s Tegeta, a company also owned by President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane. Optimum is selling 100 000 tonnes of coal a month to Oakbay, a person told Bloomberg in January.

The Indian-born Guptas’ business dealings are at the centre of an ANC investigation into “state capture”, a process where private companies control state decisions and contracts.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is also approaching Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for additional funding to enable her to investigate Zuma’s links to the Gupta family, according to Netwerk24.

Additionally, Eskom is being scrutinised by National Treasury, which is in the process of reviewing Eskom’s coal contracts. Gordhan said in February that “SOEs (state-owned entities) are not sacrosanct. We are willing to take a tougher look at them.”

Oakbay did not respond to Fin24’s request for comment. – Fin24

Source: http://www.fin24.com/Economy/Eskom/gupta-director-joined-eskom-board-within-three-months-20160329

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