Saica to start disciplinary proceedings against former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants announced on Tuesday it will start disciplinary proceedings against former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh.

This follows a period of investigation and the professional body's decision to issue charges of misconduct against the chartered accountant.

Saica’s professional conduct committee or disciplinary committee said in a statement Singh is charged for conducting himself in a way that is “discreditable, dishonourable, dishonest, irregular or unworthy, or which is derogatory to the Institute, or tends to bring the profession of accountancy into disrepute”.

Singh was also charged with failing to “maintain and adhere to the fundamental principles in the Saica Professional Code of Conduct for Chartered Accountants”.

Singh has 21 days to respond to Saica with a response to the charges. The Saica secretariat will then review the responses and table it for adjudication by the professional conduct committee.

The disciplinary hearing will take place once the details are confirmed, however these hearings are not open to the public, Saica said.

“Accused members appearing before the Professional Conduct Committee are not permitted legal representation,” the statement read.

If the committee is not pleased with Singh’s responses to the charges, it can impose a R250 000 fine per charge, suspend Singh from membership for not more than a year or refer a formal complaint to the Disciplinary Committee. Hearings before the disciplinary committee are open to the public at the chairperson’s discretion, Saica said.

Singh has been a member of Saica since January 2000. Saica had investigated Singh for improper conduct after the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse had laid a complaint against him in September 2017, Fin24 previously reported.

Ben Theron, OUTA’s COO said that the charges against Singh are a “positive step in eradicating corruption” within state-owned enterprises.

“It shows that Saica has some teeth and is willing to take action against chartered accountants who let down their profession and their country.”

Saica explained that in terms of the code of conduct, Singh is in contravention of several grounds - integrity, objectivity, confidentiality and professional behaviour.

Saica said with regard to integrity, Singh failed to disclose to the Eskom board of directors the true reason for Tegeta’s request for R600m from Eskom.

“Mr. Anoj Singh was knowingly associated with reports, returns, communications or other information where he knew or believed, or ought reasonably to have known, that the information contained a materially false or misleading statements; contained statements or information furnished recklessly; or omitted or obscured information required to be included where such omission or obscurity would be misleading.”

After becoming aware that he is associated with such information, he also failed to take steps to disassociate from the information, Saica explained.

With regard to objectivity, Singh compromised his professional or business judgement because of “bias, conflict of interest or the undue influence of others”. Singh was also found to have performed a professional service where “a relationship bias unduly influenced his professional judgement”.

Thirdly, Singh was in contravention of the principle of confidentiality when he disclosed confidential information he acquired from professional and business relationships without having the proper and specific authority to do so.

He also used the information to his personal advantage or the advantage of third parties.

“[He] failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that staff under his control and persons from whom advice and assistance is obtained respected his duty of confidentiality.”

Finally, Saica found that Singh’s professional behaviour was compromised when he failed to comply with relevant laws and regulations. He also failed to avoid conduct that he knew or should have known would discredit the accountancy profession.

“This includes conduct that a reasonable third party, weighing all the specific facts and circumstances available to him at that time, would be likely to conclude adversely affects the good reputation of the profession.”

*UPDATE: The article was updated at 16:12 on June 19, to include comments from OUTA.

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