Michael Lomas corruption scandal no surprise, says Paul O’Sullivan

Michael Lomas, a former Eskom contractor, was arrested in connection with a R745m fraud relating to the Eskom Kusile power plant. Corruption buster Paul O’Sullivan joined the BizNews Power Hour to share his thoughts on the arrest. Currently, South African prosecutors are seeking Lomas’ extradition. A UK court will soon decide whether Lomas has a case to answer in SA, reports Bloomberg – Jarryd Neves

UK-based businessman Michael Lomas was arrested last week in connection with a R745m fraud, relating to Eskom and the Kusile Power Plant. Lomas appeared in a Westminster court where he was granted bail at  £100,000, according to Bloomberg.

His arrest and consequent court appearance is in relation to a corruption case involving a payment of R745m to a company called Tubular Construction Projects. The South African National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has requested that Lomas be extradited to South Africa. However, laws dictate that a UK court needs to decide whether the businessman should be extradited or not.

Joining the BizNews Power Hour to weigh in on the matter was Paul O’Sullivan, the corruption busting crusader from Forensics for Justice. O’Sullivan remarked that Lomas’ involvement in this corruption case was of no surprise to him, citing the fact that the pair had spoke less than two years ago.

“I flew to London and met with him in November 2019. He unpacked everything for us. I don’t want to say anything that’s going to prejudice his trial, but clearly he had a lot to say regarding [Antonio] Trindade and the other people – including Abram Masango.”

O’Sullivan explains that Trindade used to work for a company called Group Five. When he resigned in 1998, Michael Lomas was the CEO at that time.

The corruption fighter has had dealings with Trindade before, remarking “it’s become the modus operandi of a lot of people involved in corruption. When they come onto my radar screen, they try to get me off their radar screen – normally with applications for interdicts, for example. He used the proceeds of crime to hire lawyers that were, shall we say, flexible enough to come and attack me. Six weeks later, [he] was arrested and charged with the corruption which we had investigated.”

According to O’Sullivan, Trindade started a company – now known as the Tubular Group. In 2008, he made contact with Michael Lomas, offering him the opportunity to come on board as a consultant. Lomas acted as a consultant for a number of years. “During that period, I suppose, there were issues at Kusile – which were a mixture of engineering and contractual issues.”

The Forensics for Justice Director told Alec Hogg that Lomas ‘sorted out’ a number of issues, including putting the company’s BEE in place which, notes O’Sullivan, they did not have. “[Lomas] described Trindade as a micro-manager. He reached a point where the people at Eskom needed ‘financial assistance’. Lomas got drawn into that and I think that’s where he crossed the line.

O’Sullivan remarked that he thinks Lomas is going in the wrong direction. “What [he] should actually be doing, is tendering his co-operation and voluntarily returning to South Africa to get evidence. If you volunteer to come back and you come of your own steam, you’re not going to sit in prison while you’re waiting for the trial.”

Lomas, who is 72-years old, is no ‘spring chicken’ said the investigator. “He would probably have been able to negotiate – which was my suggestion to him – that he should negotiate a plea bargain where he gets a suspended sentence and maybe a fine. Then, assist in the prosecution of others.”

O’Sullivan reckons that he will indeed be extradited, noting that he will be brought back against his own will. “He will have to sit, probably, in a South African jail while waiting for the trial.”

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