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As it happened: Singh part of the team that brought Eskom to its knees - Gordhan

2018-01-23 14:08

Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan took aim at Eskom’s former CFO Anoj Singh for being evasive and not taking responsibility for bringing the power utility to its knees.

Eskom CFO Anoj Singh. (Pic: Gallo Images)

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Last Updated at 03:04
23 Jan 22:42

#EskomInquiry: Pravin Gordhan questions Singh’s ethics

Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan took aim at Eskom’s former CFO Anoj Singh for being evasive and not taking responsibility for the mismanagement of funds at the power utility, during the Eskom Inquiry on Tuesday evening.

The inquiry resumed after more than a month’s break, with Singh presenting evidence on his role at the power utility. He covered the purchase of Optimum Coal Mine by Tegeta, from Glencore, the R1.6bn prepayment agreement for Tegeta, corporate governance at Eskom and the relationship between McKinsey and Trillian.

But Singh’s testimony was dominated with “I don’t knows,” as Gordhan put it. “Is self-preservation trumping conscience and ethics?,” Gordhan asked Singh.

“In other words, do you have to survive at any costs, including lying and misleading?” Gordhan pointed out to Singh that South Africans following his testimony could even tell that he was not being honest.

“What you are saying to South Africa and to your family, is that you will continue deny that you are guilty, rather than open up and help the country cleanse itself of corruption,” said Gordhan.

In response Singh said all the information he presented was fact-based, supported by evidence he had. Gordhan however said that at no point in his testimony did Singh take responsibility for what has happened at Eskom.

“If I was wrong, and a need for me to take accountability for it, I will do so,” said Singh. He added that if there are areas where he was not responsible for he made that clear. “You never took responsibility for anything,” Gordhan retorted.

He highlighted that under Singh’s watch credit rating agencies had downgraded the power utility. “You brought Eskom to its knees, the biggest utility in Africa,” said Gordhan. Gordhan stressed the importance of Singh’s role at the power utility, as CFO.

Nothing moves in corporates without the CFO and CEO making decisions, Gordhan explained. “For six, seven hours all I heard was ‘I don’t know’. You’ve only been on the job for two and a half years and you can’t remember anything.” Gordhan further said that Singh was a delinquent director and should be charged. 

Gordhan questioned Singh’s ethics, saying that Singh had ignored a strong view among the public that corruption is eroding SA society and the SA economy. “Doesn’t it worry you that you are part of that?,” he asked.

Singh responded by saying that he thinks corruption is a bad thing and should be rooted out. But he did not agree that he was part of it. 

The inquiry resumes on Wednesday, with Eskom's head of generation Matshela Koko presenting evidence. 

23 Jan 21:53

Singh opens up on why he resigned

Former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh he resigned from his position because of requirements made by government over the weekend.

He was responding to a question posed by MP Natasha Mazzone, who is a member of the portfolio committee of public enterprises.

“Following the announcements of the weekend, I believe that I was appointed at the behest of the government of South Africa,” he said.

But at the weekend among the requirements made by the government was for Singh to be removed. “I acceded to that request,” he said.

On Tuesday afternoon acting head of group capital Prish Govender resigned. Singh said he had not discussed his resignation with Govender.

23 Jan 20:41

Singh earned R4.6m at Eskom

Former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh earned R4.6m at the power utility, excluding pension contributions.

He was answering a question posed to him about his roles and responsibilities.

He said he is aware that he had the important role of managing the assets at the state-owned enterprise.

He also said he is  proud of what was achieved at Eskom. "Particularly in the 2015/16 financial year the Ebitda was R32bn."

For the year 2016/17 it was R38bn, this was on the back of cost saving measures in place. 

23 Jan 20:02

The clean up at Eskom continued with acting head of group capital Prish Govender tendering his resignation.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe took to twitter to make the announcement on Tuesday afternoon.

Govender had been reinstated at the beginning of the year, following an investigation clearing him of any wrongdoing.

23 Jan 19:55

Pravin Gordhan berates Singh over being ill-prepared for #EskomInquiry

As the Eskom Inquiry commenced, following a recess, former Finance Minsiter and member of the portfolio committee of public enterprises Pravin Gordhan raised a point of order where he scolded former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh for being ill-prepared. Throughout the inquiry Singh had trouble recalling the details over different transactions.

“It’s now about 4 to 5 hours that we heard this refrain, ‘that was nine months ago, that was a year ago’,” said Gordhan. He said that the whole purpose of giving Singh notice of the inquiry was to give him time to prepare.

From his answers, Gordhan said that the committee could conclude that he is “evasive” and lying and “less than helpful”. “There are worse conclusions we will come to if you continue this way.”

Gordhan asked the chair to direct Singh to cooperate. “We can’t sit through this farce, that is what it is at the moment.”

Rantho in turn told Singh that he cannot continue saying that he does not know the answers to questions, as the committee was asking him questions about his daily job.

“We can’t specify every transaction, all the substantial transactions that have come to our notice- a CFO who is well paid and well-qualified must have answers for us, otherwise it is gross disrespect for Parliament. Otherwise he is misleading us, and that is criminal,” added Gordhan. 

23 Jan 18:38

Singh says he did not make misrepresentations to Brown 

Eskom’s former CFO Anoj Singh says he did not make misrepresentations on the McKinsey-Trillian contract as was alluded to by the Eskom Inquiry chairperson Daphne Rantho, last year.

He was responding to questions from Advocate Vanara about the McKinsey-Trillian contract, which he said he “inherited”.

In his opening address, Singh explained that he had requested an internal audit of the procurement processes, thereafter it was concluded to have a termination agreement. “The intention for the internal audit opinion was not to have internal audit opinion prior to signing the contract,” he said.

But Vanara wanted Singh to account for misrepresentations made to Brown about the contract. This particularly relates to omissions about an exemption required from Treasury for the contract.

amaBhungane had reported that Singh pushed for McKinsey to be awarded the contract for Eskom’s corporate plan, on the basis that the global consultancy be considered the “sole supplier”. National Treasury would then have to be consulted for the deviation.

Without a public tender or Treasury permission, a contract with McKinsey would contravene the PFMA, amaBhungane reported.

This was not communicated to Brown through draft responses to parliamentary questions, Vanara asked Singh if he had helped prepare the draft responses. “I was not engaged via Eskom on my alleged misrepresentation as the chair alludes to,” said Singh.

“I maintain I did not mislead in terms of responses to questions. In my view, the answers to questions were accurate based on questions posed.”

Vanara said that Brown had acknowledged for the record that there were inaccuracies in the responses that came from Singh, he asked why the full context of the issues were not given.

Singh explained that additional information as removed, but in retrospect it probably should have been left in the draft responses to parliamentary questions. 

23 Jan 17:26

Meanwhile, this happened. Another one biting the dust at Eskom.

23 Jan 17:25

Zwane pushed Eskom’s R1.6bn guarantee for Tegeta - #EskomInquiry hears

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane was behind the R1.6bn prepayment by Eskom to Tegeta, the Eskom Inquiry heard.

While being probed on the R1.6bn guarantee issued to Tegeta, former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh acknowledged that the guarantee came about while the sale of Optimum Coal was being concluded.

Tegeta took over ownership from Glencore.

Eskom reached out to the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to facilitate the suspensive requirements of the transaction, Singh explained.

Advocate Vanara’s then asked Singh if this meant  that the DMR determined Eskom had to help Tegeta with a cash injection? To which Singh responded, that was his understanding of the decision.

“Eskom went out of its way, to go the DMR to facilitate authorisations as well a cash injection to Tegeta?,” Vanara asked.

In Singh’s response he explained that Matshela Koko identified a security supply risk at Optimum which led Eskom to seek assistance from the DMR. He explained that the DMR was aware of the risk and was approached to assist with approvals for the new owners of Optimum (Tegeta).

“It was not Eskom’s suggestion for the upfront payment. That was the response we received from the DMR.”

The R1.6bn was to be undertaken to provide the working capital and the settlement of liabilities that the new owner (Tegeta) would have to deal with soon.

Singh could not recall who the mineral resources minister was at the time, but Vanara reminded him that it was in fact Mosebenzi Zwane.

“Would it be correct to say it was Zwane,” asked Vanara, to which Singh replied that he would take Vanara’s word.

Singh’s memory seemed to be lagging by the second hour of the inquiry as he could not recall what happened on December 9, 2015.

A most “significant” event as Vanara put it, when Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene was sacked, and Des van Rooiyen was parachuted into Treasury, the department responsible for these guarantees.

Singh went on to explain that the R1.6bn guarantee was to the benefit of Tegeta, out of socio-economic interests to preserve jobs at Optimum Coal.

When Vanara asked why the same considerations were not made for Glencore, which was seeking business rescue, Singh simply shifted the blame to Koko who made the call.

Vanara reminded Singh again that his signature was associated with the submission. “I know my signature is associated with the submission, at the end of the day Koko is the best person to provide the information.”

“I rely on my colleagues, their judgements and abilities, as I relied on Ms [Suzanne] Daniels for a number of things.”

Vanara took aim at Singh, saying that he was bending backwards and forwards to accommodate Tegeta.

“That is a harsh summary, I was not bending over in any way, shape or form,” said Singh.

He added that he was working according to the mandate of the shareholders.

23 Jan 17:04

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has called on Eskom head of generation Matshela Koko to take a leaf out of former CFO Anoj Singh's book and resign from the parastatal.

The pair are facing several allegations related to criminal activities including corruption.

"They and others have brought the country’s power provider to the brink of bankruptcy, which would have devastating consequences for all South Africans and the country’s economy," SAFTU said in a statement.

The government said on Saturday it wants all Eskom executives who are facing “allegations of corruption”, including Koko and Singh, to be removed immediately.

Singh resigned with immediate effect on the eve of the restart of the inquiry into corruption at Eskom. 

23 Jan 16:37

Members of the portfolio committee on public enterprises listen to former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh's testimony on state capture of the power utility.

Photo: Lameez Omarjee, Fin24

23 Jan 16:25

Optimum’s R2.1bn fine was not cast in stone - Singh

Advocate Vanara grilled former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh over a R2.1bn fine for Optimum Coal Mine which was squashed.

He made Singh read out an email from former board member of Oakbay Mark Parmensky, indicating that the fine had to “disappear”.

But in his response, Singh said that in his capacity as CFO he engaged with the project manager to understand the situation of the fine.

“It was not my view that the R2.1bn was cast in stone - that was not my understanding.

“If there was a R2.1bn agreement that needed to be paid, then we would have had to receive the R2.1bn.”

Singh said his understanding was that there was an agreement for sub-standard coal to be delivered, which resulted in a R2.1bn fine. This was being contested by the previous owner, the current owner and Eskom. He decided that an arbitration process was needed to determine the penalty.

At the time Brian Molefe was Group Chief Executive. “Molefe’s assertion was that the principal of paying a penalty would not be going away, an amount had to be paid, either the previous owners of the mine  (Glencore) or the new owners of the mine (Tegeta). That was my understanding.”

Singh said he took comfort in the arbitration process, where head of legal Suzanne Daniels had provided evidence to the board tender committee as to why the R2.1bn was watered down.

Singh insisted he was not involved in the negotiations, and that Daniels had asked that he be the authority to sign off the agreement because she was the one who handled negotiations.

Vanara however said that Singh was misleading the committee on the situation, in order to protect himself because he failed in executing his fiduciary duties.

Singh believes he exercised his fiduciary duties on the matter.

Vanara then asked Singh about his role in negotiating a discount for Tegeta, and stated that he met with Oakbay’s Ronica Ravagan. There was no record of the minutes of the meeting where a 3.5% discount for six months was agreed to.

When Vanara asked why there was no record of the meeting, Singh said that he had engaged with a number of suppliers on settlement discounts and rarely the negotiation was written, but rather would be sent out as an email or an instruction.

23 Jan 15:52

Meanwhile, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse wants Anoj Singh to face both criminal charges and civil action to recover "missing funds" at Eskom.

The civil rights body said on Tuesday the former Eskom chief financial officer's resignation on Monday evening should not allow him to avoid being held to account for issues of corporate governance at Eskom'.

23 Jan 15:44

Guptas never paid for Dubai trips – Singh

Former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh said that the Gupta family had never paid for his trips to Dubai, and that he had no personal relationship with the family. Responding to a question from Advocate Vanara, Singh said his trip was paid by an acquaintance from the UAE.

He said that he had engaged with a travel agent for his trip and made all of the arrangements. He also said he was not aware if his acquaintance had interests in Gupta-owned Sahara Computers. “I had not inquired of him, and he had not disclosed to me, based on that I will say no,” he said.

Singh also said that he had not gone through the #GuptaLeaks.  Singh said that he made numerous trips to Dubai for both personal and professional reasons. On a professional basis, either Eskom or Transnet would pay, or he would pay, or his acquaintance would pay.

When asked if he had met with the Guptas at the Oberoi hotel, where he stayed, Singh said he did not. “I have been to Dubai a number of occasions and stayed in the Oberoi hotel, on a number of occasions.”

He had no formal meeting with the Guptas at Oberoi but that it is possible that they could have seen each other in passing while staying at the same hotel. “My testimony is that I may (have been) at the hotel at the same time, but it was not my intention to be with Mr Gupta or Mr Chawla.”

Vanara also asked Singh if there was a shelf company in his name in Dubai. To which Singh responded: “There is no company registered in my name globally. The SARB had contacted me, related to my alleged bank accounts and assets and liabilities offshore. I made a declaration that I am not aware of these so-called entities or bank accounts.”

23 Jan 15:35

Meanwhile, under-fire Eskom executive Matshela Koko, who is set to appear before the Eskom Inquiry on Wednesday, accused suspended Eskom company secretary and head of legal Suzanne Daniels of spearheading controversial payments to McKinsey and Trillian.

The government announced on Saturday that it wants all Eskom executives who are facing “allegations of corruption”, including Singh and Koko, to be removed immediately.

23 Jan 15:06

I do not have a personal relationship with the Gupta family  - Singh 

In his address to parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh said that he had information on Trillian and McKinsey but was not going to submit all of it on Tuesday.

Singh explained that the Trillian-McKinsey contract started before he joined Eskom and said it was a programme he “inherited” after joining the power utility.

He had requested an internal audit of the procurement processes and in February 2017 it was concluded to have a termination agreement.

Responding to a question from Advocate Atuthuzelo Vanara, he later spoke on the relations he had with executives at Trillian, McKinsey and the Gupta family. “I have no relationship with the Gupta family - but I have met the Gupta family through business breakfasts and TNA breakfasts… I do not have a personal relationship with the Gupta family.”

Singh said that the Gupta family did not pay for his trip to Dubai, but rather one of his acquaintances from the UAE.

As for Trillian partner Eric Wood, Singh said that he had met Wood when he was a partner at Regiments Capital. “At the time Regiments was a subcontractor of McKinsey and that was the first meeting with Wood.”

As for Vikas Sagar, who was at McKinsey, Singh said that his relationship was also professional.

He said that he had met Gupta business associate Salim Essa, who sought business opportunities “like most other meetings and interactions with individuals”. “It was relatively short and I can’t remember exactly when,” said Singh.

He believed he may have met Essa during his time at Transnet.

23 Jan 14:28

Changes at Eskom won't affect inquiry - chair

Despite the events over the past weekend, namely the appointment of a new board at Eskom, the inquiry will still go ahead said chair Daphne Rantho.

As the inquiry resumes on Tuesday afternoon, with former CFO Anoj Singh to testify, Rantho expressed that there was still work to be done to get to the bottom of the mismanagement of funds at the power utility.

"We will still continue doing our oversight in the entities that are at our disposal or part of our portfolio committee.

"We acknowledge the appointment of the new board. We are going to work with the new board. We acknowledge changes at Eskom such as the resignation of Singh but we will still interact with Mr Singh."

Singh is to testify for the work he did at Eskom, she emphasised. "That is exactly the work we want to hear about in the time (he was) at Eskom."

Rantho said the inquiry will leave no stone unturned. Rantho said that the committee has returned from its break, reinvigorated re-energised and will be working with other South Africans who have come forward with information during the December holidays.  

In his opening statement, Singh apologised for the late submission of documents in December. he said his intention was not to "derail" the inquiry. 

23 Jan 14:09

Singh to testify, despite resigning the night before

The Eskom Inquiry resumed on Tuesday afternoon, Anoj Singh will present evidence even though he  esigned as CFO the night before.

Eskom announced in a statement on Monday night that the new board had accepted Singh’s resignation.

"Eskom has today received, through Mr Anoj Singh’s attorneys, a formal letter of resignation by Mr Singh from his position as the Chief Financial Officer, in line with the terms of his employment contract.

"The board of Eskom, through the Chairman, has accepted the resignation and communicated the acceptance through Mr Singh’s attorneys. Mr Singh’s resignation is with immediate effect."

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe confirmed to Fin24 that Singh would still testify at the inquiry on Tuesday.

The inquiry by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises is investigating the mismanagement of state funds at Eskom.

The inquiry was adjourned in the first week of December 2017, when Singh was initially supposed to testify. However, he failed to submit his documents in time and was criticised by the committee’s chair, Daphne Rantho, for undermining Parliament.

Singh was suspended by the power utility in September 2017, after being placed on special leave at the end of July, Fin24 reported. This came following allegations that he was involved in irregularly awarding contracts to Gupta-linked businesses, and also received gifts and trips from the controversial family.

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