Stephen van Coller hits back at EOH critics over graft allegations

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Stephen van Coller, EOH Group CEO.
Stephen van Coller, EOH Group CEO.

Stephen van Coller, EOH Group CEO, has hit back at critics who want the company’s bank accounts closed, saying the business is now “ethically sound and sustainable”.

Van Coller says the recent heightened criticism EOH encountered is largely as a result of the group’s transformation strategy, which has been “systematically and regularly” reported to all stakeholders.

EOH, the JSE-listed technology services company, has in recent weeks been making headlines around issues pertaining to Microsoft licence sales to the Department of Defence and City of Johannesburg contracts.

Just last week, EOH was dragged into a dispute between AYO and banks. Pressure group Transform RSA is leading the charge demanding EOH’s bank accounts be closed due to corruption after the company agreed to pay back over R40 million it overcharged government.

Transform RSA says EOH “admitted” to corruption and should not be treated differently from other firms that have been accused of corruption.

According to the group, banks closed technology company AYO’s bank accounts following reports of alleged impropriety but EOH still holds banking facilities.

Responding to Transform RSA, Van Coller says: “EOH has been completely transparent with all the banks and has further co-operated with the authorities, including the Judicial Commission of Enquiry, whilst also laying criminal charges against the perpetrators of wrongdoing who are no longer employed by the group.

“As a group, we remain absolutely committed to good corporate citizenship and governance, while maintaining a zero-tolerance approach towards corruption. It is in line with this commitment that EOH provided input to the Judicial Commission of Enquiry regarding identified irregularities.

“It is also in line with this commitment that EOH reported concerns to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations Unit and the Financial Intelligence Centre, prior to the group being approached by the SIU [Special Investigating Unit], and further initiated action in order to recover losses caused by perpetrators of wrongdoing. EOH today is premised on transparent, ethical business practices.

“Through our actions over the past two years, we have shown the strength of that commitment, and that we will continue to follow the highest standards of governance, risk and compliance.

“In our quest to become an ethically sound and sustainable business, EOH has had to review and re-evaluate certain historical contracts.

“This process has resulted in EOH having to terminate and/or regularise certain contracts and business relationships. These decisions have not been taken lightly but have been necessary, both in the context of our obligations as a listed entity and in balancing the interests of all stakeholders. As can be expected, some stakeholders may be adversely affected by these decisions and the resulting actions. These steps have, however, been required in order to rectify and safeguard against the type of legacy irregularities that EOH previously experienced.”

According to Van Coller: “Over the past two years, EOH’s new management team and new board of directors have worked tirelessly to enhance governance practices and root out corruption to successfully restore the group’s reputation. EOH continues to deal with its customers, partners and banks transparently and ethically.”

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