A Step Towards Accountability For State Capture Corruption At Eskom: ABB To Pay Over R2.5 Billion In Punitive Reparations To South Africa
As part of its ongoing criminal investigation into complex corruption at Eskom, the NPA’s Investigating Directorate (ID) has finalised a comprehensive settlement agreement with ABB to pay over R2,5 billion in punitive reparations to South Africa. This settlement represents a bold and innovative step towards accountability and justice for alleged offenders, particularly in the form of restitution for the serious crimes committed at Eskom during the state capture period.
The payment must be made into South Africa’s Criminal Asset Recovery Account (CARA) within 60 days from 01 December 2022. This agreement was reached in line with Section 64(e) of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA). It is reflective of the NPA’s two-pronged strategy to deal with corruption through prosecuting perpetrators and recovering the stolen money. This punitive amount is in addition to the R1.6 billion that ABB paid to Eskom in 2020.
ABB Ltd, an international company with a large South African footprint, was implicated in state capture era corruption. ABB has acknowledged liability and taken responsibility for the alleged criminal conduct of its employees involving contracts with Eskom. As a result, ABB has been forthcoming in cooperating with law enforcement agencies conducting the investigations into such alleged conduct. It has assisted the NPA’s ID to secure evidence and key witnesses which have formed an essential part of the NPA’s ongoing investigations into the company’s alleged offences. It will continue to do so as part of the agreement.
This settlement agreement was negotiated with partner countries, including the USA, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany. South Africa is getting the bulk of the settlement amount due to the nature of the crimes and the negative impact on South Africa and its people.
The settlement has the immediate benefit of saving costs in the context of a protracted trial against the corporate entity (ABB Ltd), and securing funds upfront for the fiscus while ongoing criminal investigations into implicated persons continue. The money, once paid into CARA, will be used as restitution for victims, and to assist in building South Africa’s capacity and resources in its ongoing fight against serious corruption.
It needs to be made clear, however, that this settlement does not indemnify any individuals involved in criminal conduct, including directors, staff and contractors of ABB. The NPA will continue to pursue these criminal prosecutions, with the support of ABB who has committed to ongoing collaboration to ensure accountability for the crimes allegedly committed by its employees.
The settlement agreement makes it clear that the ID may proceed to prosecute ABB as a corporate entity in the event that ABB breaches any terms of the settlement, including the payment of the agreed amount within the stipulated timeframe, and full cooperation and disclosures as per the agreement.
In light of the ongoing and sensitive nature of the investigations, the NPA will not provide any media commentary on the investigations at this stage.
Issued by Office of National Director of Public Prosecutions: Adv Rodney de Kock, Acting NDPP
Media queries: Adv Mthunzi Mhaga, NPA Spokesperson