Eskom has vehemently rejected allegations made by former Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who says that Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and board chairperson Ben Ngubane pushed him to blackmail Glencore to ensure that a Gupta company could take control of the Optimum Coal Mine.
In an amaBhungane exclusive, Ramahtlhodi reveals how the Guptas managed to secure the Optimum coal mine from Glencore in 2015 at a time when Molefe was in constant contact with the controversial family.
Molefe, who resigned as the utility's CEO last year following allegations of his connection to the Guptas in the Public Protector's State of Capture report, has now been reinstated as CEO.
Ramatlhodi says he refused to suspend all of Glencore’s South African mining licences as Molefe and Ngubane had insisted.
Ramatlhodi says he was fired as Mineral Resources Minister shortly after this and replaced by Mosebenzi Zwane, a known Gupta associate.
At the same time, AmaBhungane has established that Trillian, the financial advisory group owned by the Gupta's business partner Salim Essa, received almost R300 million from Eskom, supposedly for consulting work. This included a R30 million payment from Eskom on the day the Gupta consortium was due to pay for the Optimum coal mine.
According to the Public Protector's State of Capture report, Trillian contributed a staggering R235 million towards the Optimum purchase price soon after being formed, although the company has denied this.
However, it has not commented on payments received from Eskom, claiming client confidentiality.
AmaBhungane says it has pieced together claims of how the Guptas have used its network of corporate and political pawns to strong-arm Glencore into this forced sale, and siphon off millions in state-owned company contracts to pay the bill.