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Eskom Calls For More Arrests After Ex-ABB Employees Apprehended

Eskom Calls For More Arrests After Ex-ABB Employees Apprehended
The ABB Ltd. logo on a machine in the company's Drives production site in Helsinki, Finland, on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. ABB provides power and automation technologies, operating under segments that include power products, power systems, automation products, process automation, and robotics. Photographer: Roni Rekomaa/Bloomberg

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., South Africa’s state-owned power utility, called for more arrests after police apprehended two former employees of Swiss industrial firm ABB Ltd. and their wives for corruption linked to more than half a billion rand ($29.4 million) of contracts. 

The two former ABB workers are accused of defrauding Eskom by receiving 8.6 million rand in kickbacks, including cash and luxury cars, by awarding a 549.6 million rand sub-contract, the National Prosecuting Authority said in a statement. Their spouses allegedly also profited from this, Eskom said in a separate statement on Wednesday.

Muhammed and Raeesa Mooidheen were granted bail in a Johannesburg court and Vernon and Aradhna Pillay faced a hearing in Durban.

ABB is one of a number of international companies found to have been tied up in years of corruption at Eskom and other South African state-owned companies during the presidency of Jacob Zuma, which ended in 2018. The company agreed in 2020 to repay 1.56 billion rand of funds it had been irregularly paid in connection with the construction of Eskom’s coal-fired Kusile Power Station.

“ABB continues to cooperate fully with all other authorities in South Africa, the U.S., Germany, and Switzerland in their ongoing investigations into the Kusile contract,” the group said in an emailed response to questions. “ABB remains committed to bring the totality of this matter to a close as soon as possible.”

Other companies to have repaid cash include German software group SAP SE, U.S. consultancy McKinsey & Co.

“Eskom was one of the main crime scenes, as evidenced by the findings of the Commission of Inquiry on State Capture,” the power company said, referring to a report that was released after an almost four-year judicial probe into state corruption during Zuma’s tenure.

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