Wood fighting R600m Eskom battle 'on his own'
In an application to buy more time to tackle Eskom claims of corruption and malfeasance against him and Trillian ‘head on’, Eric Wood, former business partner of Gupta kingpin, Salim Essa, says he has been left to wage a R600m state capture battle against the power utility on his own.
According to a Daily Maverick report, Wood made this claim in an application for late filing of a supplementary affidavit at the start of Eskom’s case to set aside decisions that led to nearly R1.6bn in payments to Trillian and McKinsey at the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) yesterday.
The parastatal, however, sees this as a ploy to delay the case.
Wood argues that he has been confronted with ‘dense new matter’ in additional paperwork from Eskom. As a result, he says, he has endured a lonely struggle to dig up the relevant records and information from former staff who were at the coalface of the work on two sub-contracts Trillian performed as McKinsey’s B-BBEE partner.
Eskom wants to invalidate the master service agreement it had with McKinsey and subsequent board decisions that led to cancellation of the contract and the payments.
Trillian, which received alleged irregular payments totalling R595m even though it never had a contract with Eskom, is putting up a firm fight. It says it had a ‘partly oral, partly tacit, partly written’ agreement to be McKinsey’s sub-contractor on various Eskom projects.
Wood wants to submit additional responses, claiming ‘the great majority who have relevant information, have deserted me and I have been doing my utmost to access documents to defend the unfounded allegations.’ He maintains that payments to Trillian were justified and that Eskom has no right to claim them back.
Eskom has dismissed Wood’s plea, firstly because he waited until 48 hours before the start of the hearing to slip in extra explanations for the payments, and furthermore, because it is an alleged continuance of 'obstructive and dilatory' conduct on his part to delay finalisation of the case.
According to the Daily Maverick report, Jan Oberholzer, the parastatal’s chief operating officer, said Wood had six weeks to respond to Hadebe’s latest affidavit yet, by his own admission, he and his 'large team of lawyers' failed to study the document more 'expeditiously'.
The company has no new evidence to submit, has 'dismally failed to prove the existence of a contract nexus between Trillian and Eskom which may justify the retention of any of the cash paid to it', Oberholzer said.
After hearing argument yesterday, the court allowed Trillian to submit the additional affidavit. While Eskom was ready to proceed with the main application, Trillian still had outstanding documents resulting in the case being postponed until March 2019.
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