De Ruyter denies Sasol wrongdoing; Cosatu’s PIC plan for Eskom; Trillian’s Gupta stash where-about; brave Saffer

By Linda van Tilburg

  • The incoming head of Eskom, Andre de Ruyter has denied that he engaged in “questionable stock sales” months before resigning from Sasol to join Nampak as CEO in 2013. It follows a Bloomberg News report that stated that a forensic audit commissioned by Sasol found that De Ruyter had known about cost overruns at the company’s Fischer Tropsch Wax Expansion project and sold off company stock before this information was disclosed to other executives. Speaking to Business Day, De Ruyter said the allegation was non-sensical and said he had not been aware of the investigation and had never been afforded a chance to respond. Former CFO of Sasol Christine Ramon who is said to have also sold a large number of shares on the same day had also been implicated. Ramon told Bloomberg that she strongly denied having acted wrongfully or unlawfully.
  • Cosatu is proposing that more than half the debt of state-owned Eskom be put into a special purpose vehicle to help save the utility and avoid job cuts. The trade unions are urging the government strike a deal with the Public Investment Corp to help cut Eskom’s debt to R200bn ($14 billion) from R450bn according to a document seen by Bloomberg News. Development finance institutions should also be involved, the group said. Bloomberg reports that passing debt to the PIC would come with its own risks, as the company is the main manager of the government-worker pension funds. Cosatu says it and other onion federations have been in talks with Eskom’s creditors which went “very well”. The Cosatu proposal states that Eskom’s turnaround plan must also include public and private investments “to produce renewable-energy technology locally,” especially in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape province where the coal is mined and used in power stations.
  • A server of financial services firm Trillian containing more than 3 million documents, memos, invoices and internal emails that has been obtain by a group of investigative journalist called the Organised Crime and Corruption Project has revealed where the Guptas millions went between 2014 and 2017. Under Trillian’s direction, the money was cycled through a network of 10 shell companies and consulting firms that held accounts at South African and international banks. The money, which also passed through a Bermuda group of companies, ended up as far afield as India and  Dubai. Invoices found on the Trillian server also revealed the mechanism the Guptas used to siphon over half a billion rand from Eskom. According to the Sunday Times, the leaked emails show that Eric Wood owned a residential property in Sandhurst worth R35 million, a R25 million game farm and a R20 million helicopter. More details on the leaked emails on the Biznews website.
  • And while it is a season of goodwill, here is a human interest story of South African that everybody can be proud of. He is Darryn Frost who was originally from Johannesburg but now lives in London. It has emerged that Frost was the man that confronted the London Bridge attacker on the 29th of November with a narwhal tusk before pinning him to the ground to help end the attack in which two people were killed. Frost grabbed the narwhal tusk from the wall in Fishmonger’s hall chased Usman Khan onto London Bridge where footage capture him and other members of the pubic fending off the attacker. Frost’s identify was only revealed over the weekend. And on that note of incredible bravery, this has been you flash briefing, until tomorrow.
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