EOH Holdings, its board and its CEO, Stephen van Coller have been heaped with praise by the commission of inquiry into state capture headed by chief justice Raymond Zondo for the way the group has disclosed its role in government corruption.
The Zondo commission’s latest report, which details the goings-on in a contract between EOH and the City of Johannesburg, describes EOH as a “unique case” in that it was alone among all of the companies mentioned in proceedings that approached the commission proactively to be “given the opportunity to disclose publicly what wrongdoing had taken place historically within its ranks”.
“It sought to explain what it has already done, and what it proposes to do, to make reparation for such wrongdoing and to prevent similar wrongdoing occurring within its ranks in the future,” the report said. “EOH’s attitude towards the commission is illustrative of the attitude it has taken to regulatory and law enforcement authorities more generally.”
The commission said: “There is no other company that has been of greater assistance to the commission in relation to the investigation of historical wrongdoing within its ranks.”
It commended Van Coller and the EOH board “for taking the approach they have”.
“Primary credit for the attitude taken by EOH must be accorded to Mr Van Coller. At the time of his appointment in 2018, he was aware of adverse media reports relating to EOH. His response to these reports was not to seek to negate them, but rather to investigate to establish whether they were substantiated.”
When it became clear that there was substance to several of the reports, the commission said Van Coller put in place a wide range of measures to, in its words:
- Investigate the full extent of historical wrongdoing within the ranks of EOH;
- To draw the historical wrongdoing to the attention of the authorities;
- To engage the affected organs of state so as to reach agreement on the payment of compensation by EOH to make good the harm that they had suffered as a result of wrongdoing by EOH executives; and
- To make appointments and to establish structures within EOH that would provide safeguards to prevent future repetition of the past wrong committed by individuals associated with EOH.
“EOH should not be allowed to retain the benefits of historical corrupt and irregular procurement practices,” the commission said. “Under the leadership of Mr Van Coller and its current board, EOH does not seek to do so. It is proactively investigating its historical involvement in corrupt and irregular procurement processes, bringing the relevant facts to the attention of the authorities and tendering to make reparation to the organs of state at whose expense it profited from these practices.”
Asked for comment on Friday on the commission’s praise of EOH, Van Coller told TechCentral: “It is a pity more corporates would not do this. It’s the only way to roll back time if we are going to rid our country of the effects of state capture.” — © 2022 NewsCentral Media