Revealed: How Trillian Played Gatekeeper To Government Contracts

A whistleblower says the Gupta-linked firm gave access to government officials to international consultancy firms for a fee.
The logo of consulting firm McKinsey & Company is seen at an office building in Zurich, Switzerland September 22, 2016.
The logo of consulting firm McKinsey & Company is seen at an office building in Zurich, Switzerland September 22, 2016.
Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters

A former chief executive of Gupta-linked consultancy firm Trillian Management Consulting has turned whistle-blower, alleging that the firm facilitated access to government departments and state-owned enterprises for international consultancy firms, McKinsey and Oliver Wyman, amaBhungane reported on Wednesday night.

In exchange for this access, Trillian was allegedly given large chunks of fees for consulting contracts.

The former chief executive, Bianca Goodson, reportedly resigned from Trillian after just five months, in March 2016. The firm was reportedly controlled by Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa.

Goodson reportedly made the claims in a detailed statement prepared for the mooted state capture inquiry. When the inquiry appeared not to be in the pipeline, she decided to go public, amaBhungane reported.

According to Goodson, if international consultancy firms wanted contracts from certain state entities, they would have to take on Trillian as their "supplier development" partner, effectively making the firm a gatekeeper to lucrative contracts. Trillian would then be given up to half the contract.

She reportedly claimed that Trillian did not do any work for government directly, but secured the work and passed it on. Trillian reportedly got R595-million from Eskom as McKinsey's supplier development partner. McKinsey scored R1-billion from the same contract.

Trillian and McKinsey denied the allegations.

When she questioned this, Goodson reportedly said she was told: "[Trillian] is fortunate to have relationships with the people that 'open the taps' and that 'South Africa's wealth should not be only with the Ruperts and Koseffs of the world.'"

Trillian also became the gatekeeper for international consultancy firm Oliver Wyman, who sought a contract from the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta). The department was then headed by Des Van Rooyen, who had recently been removed as minister of finance.

Trillian reportedly arranged meetings with Transnet and Eskom officials for Oliver Wyman officials.

Oliver Wyman said no business took place with Trillian, because although it was identified as a BEE partner, an assessment of the firm revealed "governance" concerns.

The last straw for Goodson was reportedly when she was asked to sign documents opening a bank account for Trillian with the Bank of Baroda. She said she was told that this was for a subcontractor, an Indian firm, which would do work for Eskom. All payments were due to be made via the Bank of Baroda account.

She reportedly said she was told that Trillian's work was planned around Zuma's term of office -– another claim denied by Trillian.