NPA serves restraint order of R583.8 million on ex ABB employees and Koko’s step daughters company

  • South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) Asset Forfeiture Unit yesterday served a provisional restraint order of R583.8 million against two former South African employees of international engineering group ABB, Mohammed Mooidheen and Vernon Pillay, their wives, and two Eskom subcontractors,  Impulse International and Indiwize Construction.
  • The six accused are facing charges of corruption, money laundering, fraud and forgery linked to Eskom contracts involving R2.2 billion at Kusile Power Station.  

The NPA alleges that Mooidheen and Pillay entered into a scheme with former acting Eskom chief executive officer Matshela Koko, whereby his stepdaughter, Thato Choma, was appointed a shareholder of Impulse Intenational. Documents in the Eskom Files – a vast data dump of emails, forensic reports, bank statements and legal and financial records – show that ABB paid Impulse R557 million. After Choma became a shareholder at Impulse, Eskom awarded the company a series of other lucrative contracts and paid the firm R295 million.

In return Mooidheen and Pillay plus their respective wives, received gratifications in the form of cash and luxury cars from Impulse, which was laundered through Indiwize. 

Mooidheen and Pillay plus their wives were arrested in July 2022. According to the charge sheet, between 28 October and 14 November 2016, the Pillays bought a Toyota Land Cruiser valued at more than R1.3-million while between 28 November 2016 and 4 January 2017, the Mooidheens bought a Golf 7 valued at R618,000 and a Mercedes-Benz valued at R930,000 with money provided by Impulse and/or its subsidiaries. Some assets belonging to the suspects and their spouses were seized by the Asset Forfeiture Unit at the time.

Related news: R33 billion needed to complete commissioning and remedial work at Medupi and Kusile coal fired power stations

On 27th October 2022, the South African Investigating Directorate arrested eight accused in the case in South Africa. The accused in the matter are former SA Local Government Association (SALGA) Chief Executive Thabo Mokwena, Eskom’s former interim Chief Executive Matshela Koko, his wife, Mosima Koko, and Koko’s stepdaughters Koketso Aren and Thato Choma. Eskom Project Director at Kusile (most senior on site) Hlupheka Sithole, Lawyer Johannes Coetzee and Watson Seswai. The case was recently postponed until the 4th September 2023. Read more

The latest move by the NPA follows a series of payments made by ABB in confession and acknowledgements of their unethical and corrupt behaviour in South Africa. ABB have openly admitted to the bribery of a high-ranking official at South Africa’s state-owned energy company, Eskom. The official is believe to be ex Eskom interim CEO, Matshela Koko.

Related news: Ex interim CEO of Eskom, Matshela Koko, is facing up to 15 years in jail

The US Department of Justice’s resolution was coordinated with prosecutorial authorities in South Africa and Switzerland, as well as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

“This is the department’s first coordinated resolution with authorities in South Africa, where much of ABB’s criminal scheme was carried out, reflecting our commitment to relationship-building and our ever-deepening partnerships in the global fight against corruption,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

“ABB bribed a high-ranking official at South Africa’s state-owned energy company in order to corruptly obtain confidential information and win lucrative contracts. In addition, our partners in South Africa have brought corruption charges against that official.  This resolution demonstrates the Criminal Division’s thoughtful approach to appropriately balancing ABB’s extensive remediation, timely and full cooperation, and demonstrated intent to bring the misconduct to the department’s attention promptly upon discovering it, while also accounting for ABB’s historical misconduct,” added Polite.

Link to ABB’s full plea agreement HERE

ABB pays big time for their corrupt behaviour

ABB agreed to pay more than US$315 million to resolve an investigation into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) stemming from the bribery. ABB has also paid over R2,5 billion in punitive reparations to South Africa plus the Swiss government slapped ABB with a R75 million fine

Three additional foreign nationals are also accused in the case which includes german national, Markus Bruegmann, ex ABB Group Vice President for Global Product Group Manager “Microgrids & Distributed Generation”,  Sunil Vip, a German national and former ABB employee whose whereabouts are unknown, was involved in ensuring the appointment of Leago and Impulse by ABB and, Gopal Shamji Kambi (UK national), a contractor whose whereabouts are unknown, will face one charge of fraud if extradited. He was a contractor at Kusile who supported Sithole in motivating for the first emergency procurement of Impulse.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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