Swedish-Swiss engineering giant ABB, which helped construct a huge power plant near Johannesburg, will pay reparations to South Africa over "criminal conduct" at the struggling power utility Eskom, prosecutors said Thursday.

"ABB has acknowledged liability and taken responsibility for the alleged criminal conduct of its employees involving contracts with Eskom," the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said in a statement.

It said it had finalised a settlement agreement with Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) to pay over more 2.5 billion rand ($144,000) in "punitive reparations" to South Africa.

In 2020, ABB returned 1.6 million rand ($92,000) it received for the construction of the coal-fired Kusile power station, commissioned by Eskom in 2007.

Construction of the plant, the fourth largest coal-fired generator in the world, has been fraught with allegations of graft.

The NPA said the latest development showed its determination to "deal with corruption through prosecuting perpetrators and recovering the stolen money."

"This settlement represents a bold and innovative step towards accountability... particularly in the form of restitution for the serious crimes committed at Eskom, during the state capture (corruption) period," said the NPA.

The deal was negotiated with partner countries including Italy, Germany, the United States and Switzerland.

In October eight people, including the former CEO of Eskom, Matshela Koko, were arrested on corruption charges linked to a multi-million-dollar contract with the Swedish-Swiss firm.