A group of former EOH employees and shareholders is accusing Stephen van Coller of perjury and destroying the company, but EOH dismissed it as a smear campaign.
Save EOH, a group of former EOH employees and shareholders, released a press statement saying it wants to stop the company’s decline under Van Coller.
On 17 November, Save EOH delivered evidence to the Zondo Commission, including allegations that Van Coller made false statements in his testimony before the commission.
“Our submission notes 54 blatant factual inaccuracies relating to various aspects of the company and forms the basis for formal criminal charges to be registered with the police,” the group said.
Save EOH’s submission has also been delivered to shareholders and members of the board of EOH.
“Van Coller has hijacked the narrative of corruption and state capture in South Africa to create the false impression that EOH was a failing and corrupt organisation,” Save EOH said.
The group added that he now promotes himself to gain fame as a great CEO, great leader, and a corruption fighter.
“Not long after joining EOH, Van Coller embarked on a deliberate strategy to artificially create a crisis at EOH when there was none, and then promote himself as the white knight who saves it.”
Save EOH argues that the damage Van Coller has inflicted is much broader than the destruction of the EOH brand, as it has affected all aspects of the company.
“EOH employed around 11,500 employees when van Coller joined and was a great powerhouse, driving technology in South Africa and the rest of the continent,” it said.
“In less than three years since van Coller joined, EOH now employs only 5,500 people, less than half of what it employed prior to his arrival.”
“This has affected the livelihood of thousands of people, destroyed careers, and caused immeasurable pain and suffering.”
The group added that EOH’s annual revenue declined from R16.4 billion when Van Coller joined to the current R6.8 billion – a 59% decline over three years.
EOH’s share price also took a hammering, with the company’s market cap declining by R6 billion under Van Coller.
“Van Coller disposed of 60 businesses indiscriminately, including all of the most valuable, profitable, and cash generative ‘crown jewels’ of EOH for a small fraction of their value,” Save EOH said.
The group said one of EOH’s greatest assets, Construction Computer Software (CCS), was sold to a German company for 25% of its actual value.
“This sale resulted in a loss of income and foreign currency for South Africa, a loss of many software developer jobs in South Africa, and a loss of promising future growth,” it said.
Save EOH also slated Van Coller for spending R245 million with the legal firm ENS Africa and R190 million on other consultants, which did not add much value to the company.
Save EOH said the board and shareholders of EOH cannot allow the company to continue its downward spiral under its current leadership.
“Decisive intervention is required if EOH is to remain a viable and sustainable company,” Save EOH said.
Commenting on the allegations, EOH group chief risk officer, Fatima Newman, dismissed it as a smear campaign.
“In June 2021, EOH filed civil claims against a number of former EOH executives seeking total damages of R6.4 billion. The EOH Board decided to do this after an extensive legal investigation.”
The charges filed include delinquency, breach of fiduciary duties, and breach of contract. Further civil suits against other individuals may follow as the process unfolds.
Newman said the EOH board believes that the recently launched anonymous “Save EOH” smear campaign, which levels malicious and frivolous allegations against EOH CEO Stephen Van Coller, is an attempt to retaliate against these civil actions and Stephen van Coller and his team’s efforts to turn around the organisation.
“The EOH board, led by its chair Andrew Mthembu, fully supports the EOH executive team, including Van Coller, and acknowledge their significant achievements over the past three years,” Newman said.
“The EOH board regards this personal attack as deplorable. The EOH Board has no further comment on the matter.”