OUTA lays charges against suspended Eskom CFO Anoj Singh

Eskom CFO Anoj Singh. (Pic: Gallo Images)
Eskom CFO Anoj Singh. (Pic: Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) on Tuesday laid charges of corruption and financial misconduct against Eskom’s suspended chief financial officer Anoj Singh.

Ben Theron, OUTA’s chief operating officer, alleged that Singh has been "invaluable for the Gupta empire".

On June 13, OUTA also laid a criminal complaint against former Eskom board chairperson Ben Ngubane including charges of fraud, forgery and contravention of provisions of the Companies Act. This was followed by charges against Public Enterprises director general Richard Seleke.

In July the civil rights group laid charges of treason against Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi and Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. And in August the organisation laid charges of treason, extortion, racketeering, fraud and forgery against the three Gupta brothers and Duduzane Zuma. It is unclear whether any of these charges have been investigated. 

OUTA laid the charges against Singh after it emerged on Monday that Eskom issued a misleading statement that international consultancy Oliver Wyman had given it the all clear on payments made to Gupta-linked Trillian as well as McKinsey.

But a livid Oliver Wyman forced Eskom to admit it lied over payments to Trillian. Business Day reported on Tuesday that Singh was allegedly the person who supplied the incorrect information that all was well.

Singh has been on special leave since July 27 pending an investigation into his activities at Eskom.

An affidavit by Advocate Stefanie Fick, OUTA’s head of legal affairs, outlining its allegations against Singh was handed to the police at the Randburg police station, where the charges were laid.

Much of the case arises from the investigation by Advocate Geoff Budlender which was concluded in June. His report was attached to Fick’s affidavit. The #GuptaLeaks emails also provided substantial evidence, according to OUTA, of the Guptas' involvement in wrongdoing, OUTA said.

Budlender, who was appointed by former Trillian chair Tokyo Sexwale, investigated Trillian over allegations of its use of inside political knowledge for commercial gain and links to the Guptas and their businesses.

Fick alleged the report and emails contain evidence of conduct by Singh that indicates corruption and breaches of the Public Finance Management Act and the Companies Act.

“It is also apparent from the Budlender report that there has to be a full-scale investigation into Eskom and Transnet.”

Singh appears to have authorised various payments from Eskom to benefit Gupta businesses. Singh, however, called for space to prepare a response to allegations he faces about Gupta-sponsored trips to Dubai, while he was negotiating  these business deals.

At an explosive media briefing on Eskom's financial results in July, Singh confessed that he signed a R1.6bn guarantee to ABSA Bank for Tegeta Exploration & Resources to buy the Optimum mine in December 2015. Experts have described such a guarantee as highly irregular.

Singh was apparently able to bypass the Eskom system to make payments of hundreds of millions to Trillian. The main Trillian shareholder was Salim Essa, who is part of the Gupta business empire.

The Budlender investigation notes that Singh authorised at least three substantial payments totaling R266m to Trillian in April and August 2016 which did not go through Eskom’s books; a fourth payment in December 2016 was later reported on by AmaBhungane. The four payments together were about R419m.

The payments to Trillian were connected to Trillian’s claim that it was a subcontractor to McKinsey and Company which was an Eskom contractor, but there were no tenders or contracts supporting Eskom’s payments to Trillian, and no indication that Trillian did any work to justify the payments.

The Gupta emails include a January 2016 letter from a Trillian company to Singh, claiming that Eskom should pay Trillian directly as a McKinsey subcontractor.

The Budlender report notes that Eskom denied in media reports making any payments to Trillian and in December 2016 Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown denied to Parliament that Eskom had any contracts with Trillian or had made any payments to it.

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