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Eskom's Anoj Singh sweating it out

Jul 19 2017 21:00
Yolandi Groenewald

Johannesburg - Despite a cloud hanging over Eskom’s chief financial officer Anoj Singh, who is believed to have close connections to the Gupta family, the embattled executive has so far escaped any sanction from his employer.

This follows allegations that he was involved in irregularly awarding contracts to Gupta-linked businesses, while also receiving gifts from the controversial family. 

Earlier this month Singh had to explain his questionable actions to the Eskom board, but seemingly acting chair Zethembe Khoza and the rest of the new board has been placated by his explanation. But on Wednesday he had a torrid time at the media briefing that unveiled Eskom annual financial results, with several journalists asking him to account about questionable Eskom deals.

ICYMI: News on Eskom's financial results

But Khoza said Eskom tried to be fair to its employees and that Singh acted within good business principles. 

Singh asked for space so that he could prepare an answer to the allegations that he faced. “It's something that I've been dealing with in the past couple of weeks and I will certainly be in a position to bare documents in the next couple of weeks."

His document would then be shared with the board, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and Parliament, including the portfolio committee on public accounts (Scopa).

Singh's troubles are far from over though. The embattled CFO is sure to face a grilling from Parliament when he travels to Cape Town for the Parliamentary inquiry into Eskom with his "document" in hand. The much anticipated inquiry is set to start next month.

The Eskom CFO was roasted on Wednesday, having to field a number of questions from journalists about his trips to Dubai in 2014, 2015 and 2016, apparently all funded by the notorious Guptas.

In June, the Gupta leaked emails revealed that Singh stayed at the luxurious Oberoi hotel in December 2016, during a critical time when the business deal surrounding the Gupta-linked Tegeta’s purchase of the Optimum mine was being negotiated. 

Singh later signed off on an prepayment from Eskom to Tegeta to buy coal, which essentially helped Tegeta fund the purchase of the mine.

Khoza explained that Singh only entered the fray after the prepayment was prepared at “generation-level” and taken to the board. The board’s finance subcommittee then apparently  “requested" Singh to review the business case. He said Singh's signature was merely needed as formality as he was the CFO.

“It was not him who initiated the prepayment, it was business; and the submission was done at a business level. So, we saw no need for him to be affected at that particular level,” said Khoza.

Singh and former CEO Brian Molefe worked together at Transnet before Singh followed Molefe to Eskom. Several deals that Singh worked on at Transnet is also under investigation.

As a result of the revelations in the leaked emails, Singh was included in the corruption charges lodged by the Democratic Alliance. 

READ: Why Eskom crushed R2.1bn Optimum fine to just R255.4m

Natasha MazzoneDA spokesperson on public enterprises, said there are still a number of likely compromised individuals, including Singh, at the helm of Eskom who must be dealt with decisively.

She called for his immediate suspension, and an investigation for his involvement in the 72% discount Eskom gave the Guptas to acquire Optimum.

"Instead of being suspended and investigated, he has been rewarded with a bonus of R1.8 million for the year," Mazzone said.

Singh's bonus in trying times

Singh told journalists that he was "relatively comfortable with the value of the incentive bonus.

He defended his bonus, saying he had played a critical role in turning around Eskom's precarious financial position of a few years back. 

Apart from his bonus, Singh also accumulated R522 000 in “other” payments in the year, relating "to telephone costs, security services and operating vehicle expenditure”. But the CFO said he was not aware of the details of these particular payments.

Mazzone said the DA looked forward to meeting Singh at the upcoming Parliamentary inquiry into Eskom to ensure that he is held to account.

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eskom board  |  tegeta  |  eskom  |  anoj singh  |  coal mining  |  corruption
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