Leaked e-mails show lavish life of Gupta-linked Eric Wood | Fin24
 
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Leaked e-mails show lavish life of Gupta-linked Eric Wood

Dec 22 2019 13:40
Carin Smith

The personal wealth of Trillian Capital Partners CEO Eric Wood increased dramatically a few years after he met the Guptas and their business associate Salim Essa, according to leaked e-mails obtained by the Sunday Times.

Wood founded Trillian with Essa and the company was paid millions in "fees" by Eskom. Furthermore, Wood kept a large stake in Gupta-linked financial services company Regiments even after he left as a director.

In June, the high court in Johannesburg ruled that R595m was obtained through a corrupt relationship between Wood, Essa and Eskom officials.

Fin24 reported towards the end of November that, after obtaining a wide-ranging court order freezing over R1bn worth of assets of the current and former directors of the Regiments group of companies, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said it would proceed to analyse the group's servers, which were previously seized.

According to the Sunday Times, the leaked e-mails show that Wood's lavish lifestyle included a residential property in Sandhurst worth R35m, a R25m game farm and a R20m helicopter. The leaked e-mails seem to indicate that Wood has control of five trusts, and not just one as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) previously believed.

Items listed on spreadsheets forming part of the leaked e-mails apparently include R340 000 spent at a luxury watch shop in Melrose Arch on the account of one of Wood's companies;  a family holiday in Vietnam; and Wood owning in 2015 six luxury vehicles worth in total nearly R14.5m, including a McLaren 650S, a Porsche 911 Turbo S cabriolet and a Ferrari 458 Italia.

Wood's lawyer responded to the Sunday Times that "your interrogatories are regrettably misdirected, premised as they are on misconceptions and false assumptions". The lawyer also indicated that Wood's position would be made clear during the legal process in due course.

amaBhungane reported on Fin24 in September this year that Regiments Capital had agreed to a R530m (discounted from R825m) settlement with the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund (TSDBF), which had launched claims against it to recover fees "irregularly earned".

Wood initially lodged an application to prevent the fund from clawing back the money, but later dropped the application, Fin24 previously reported. Wood refused to acknowledge that he received any money corruptly.

Fin24 reported recently about the arrest, court appearance and bail of Mangope Hlakudi (Eskom's former contract manager at Kusile power station) and Abram Masango (former head of Eskom's group capital division). They appeared in court along with Antonio Jose da Costa Trindade (CEO of Eskom contractor Tubular Holdings) and Maphoko Kgomoeswana (director of Babinatlou Business Services).

Masango, Hlakudi and others allegedly received R30m in kickbacks for Tubular winning R745m in contracts at Kusile.

As for state capture at Transnet, Fin24 reported during the past week that Transnet says it plans to approach the courts to have a number of controversial contracts for the procurement of 1 064 locomotives - that together amount to R54bn - declared unlawful and set aside. The estimated total cost for the locomotives has ballooned from R38.6bn in 2013 to R54.5bn.

In June this year the state capture commission of inquiry heard that Trillian Capital was paid R93m by Transnet for being a lead arranger of a R12bn club loan relating to the locomotive project.

In October, Transnet's Board Acquisitions and Disposal Council approved a memorandum to replace JP Morgan as the lead arranger of the club loan, the commission heard. Just five days before the club loan was finalised, Transnet entered into an agreement that Trillian would be the lead arranger of the loan. Later that month, Trillian invoiced Transnet R93m for services it purportedly rendered as lead arranger of the club loan, a witness told the commission.

The Sunday Times reports that the Special Investigations Unit has indicated that it is ready to place a case on the court roll regarding a R3.7bn deal awarded to a company owned by the Guptas and Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane.

In addition, a SIU spokesperson indicated that almost 2 000 Eskom staff members have been identified as having undeclared interests in companies doing business with the state-owned power supplier.

The Sunday Times further reports "sources" at the NPA and SIU as indicating possible arrests of senior former Eskom and Transnet executives as well as directors of engineering firms allegedly involved in state capture, following the results of the various commissions of inquiry.

Charges could include corruption, racketeering and money-laundering.

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