What board signed off turned out to be something else – ex Eskom director

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Cape Town – Sometimes it turned out that things the Eskom board had signed off on, were actually “something else”, former director Venete Klein told Parliament’s public enterprises committee on Tuesday.

She was asked as part of an inquiry into state capture whether she ever experienced that “Gupta companies” were given priority. She was told other witnesses testified during the inquiry that Gupta companies were given such priority. Klein was asked if she was ever suspicious of something like that.

She responded that she always made it clear how she “felt about that”. She said she was never requested to meet with “Guptas or Zumas”. Only once did Gupta business associate Salim Essa introduce himself to her and gave her his business card.  

“At the committees I served on I never saw [such] contracts. The McKinsey contract [I saw] was just to support the executive in terms of the corporate plan. There was no mention of the Guptas or any of the Gupta companies, so I cannot give input on that,” Klein told the committee.

She said she was also not involved in terms of pre-payments. The one she did see was the R1.6bn Optimum Coal contract, but she said at the time there was a need for the board to sign off for coal required.

“I actually went back to the company secretary, saying I will only sign off on IFC approval. I felt I did not know enough about it. Dr Pat Naidoo briefed us on it,” she told the committee.

“But the R1.6bn apparently turned out to be a guarantee for Absa or something else, but that never came to the board. So, sometimes what you signed off as a board later turned out to be something else one would later read about in the papers.”

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