Johannesburg - Controversial Eskom Chief Financial Officer Anoj Singh has been put on special leave pending an investigation, Eskom announced on Thursday.
Eskom's board of directors said it has taken a decision to grant Singh special leave until an investigation into his conduct had been concluded. The board fell short to say that Singh had been suspended, but his exit from Eskom follows month of pressure for the state utility to take action against him.
Singh has been hounded by allegations that he was involved in irregularly awarding contracts to Gupta-linked businesses, while also receiving gifts and trips from the controversial family.
On Thursday afternoon The Times reported that Singh was suspended following an urgent intervention of Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and Public Enterprise Minister Lynne Brown. This was after Eskom was threatened by the Development Bank of SA (DBSA) that it would retract its R15bn loan if no action is taken against Singh.
Acting Chairman Zethembe Khoza said Eskom was stable "as evidenced by the recent financial results," despite Singh's exit.
"We will continue delivering on its turnaround strategy,” he said .
Brownwelcomed the Board’s decision. "It paves the way for the investigation to take place in a transparent way. This will ensure confidence in the process."
She said she has urged Eskom's board to to expedite the investigation and ensure that the company can concentrate on its core mandate.
“A smooth functioning Eskom is critical to the country’s economy. This was evident this week when StatsSA released the infrastructure spend for 2016/17 which showed that Eskom spent R73 billion for the period.”
Calib Cassim has been appointed Interim Chief Financial Officer. Cassim is a registered chartered accountant, with 15 years of service at Eskom.
Earlier this month Singh had to explain his questionable actions to the Eskom board, but seeminglye Khoza and the rest of the new board has been placated by his explanation. But last week Wednesday he had a torrid time at the media briefing where Eskom unveiled its annual financial results, with several journalists asking him to account forquestionable Eskom deals.
And this week it seems that Eskom's lenders, which included DBSA, applied pressure for Singh to be axed or risk having Eskom's credit facilities withdrawn.
At the release of Eskom's financial results last week Khoza said Singh had not been suspended, because Eskom tried to be fair to its employees and that Singh acted within good business principles.
Singh also 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, Brown and Parliament, including the portfolio committee on public accounts (Scopa).
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