Pravin Gordhan says Eskom's Singh should be declared a delinquent director

24 January 2018 - 10:23 By Linda Ensor
Pravin Gordhan. File photo
Pravin Gordhan. File photo
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

Former Eskom chief financial officer Anoj Singh - who was allegedly at the heart of state capture of the utility - was accused of lying‚ evasiveness and being misleading during his testimony before the parliamentary inquiry into state capture on Tuesday.

In gruelling questioning that lasted more than nine hours and ended after midnight‚ Singh was grilled by evidence leader Ntuthuzelo Vanara and members of the portfolio committee on public enterprises about his roles in concluding several suspect contracts with Gupta-owned Tegeta Exploration & Resources‚ and in the utility’s dealings with Gupta-linked Trillian Capital Partners.

He was accused of having contravened several sections of the Public Finance Management Act and the Companies Act during his tenure at the utility.

Committee members attacked Singh for what they said were his evasive responses‚ which were often of the nature of “I don’t know”‚ “I can’t remember” or‚ “It was not my responsibility” - whereas they stressed that as chief financial officer‚ he would have had a central role in running the utility.

DA public enterprises spokesperson Natasha Mazzone said his amnesia was problematic.

“You seem to have forgotten dates and times and places. There is overwhelming and mounting evidence that you were part of an elaborate scheme to break off chunks of Eskom and sell them to the highest bidder.

“I am beyond the point of believing that you did not know about this and that you did not play an active role in this.”

Singh denied he had been part of corruption at the utility.

MPs said they had received SMSes during the televised inquiry from members of the public saying Singh was playing the committee for fools and expressing disappointment with his testimony.

Singh could not be pinned down to agree that Eskom had been in the grip of deep corruption‚ though he admitted that there were corporate governance challenges.

Vanara highlighted the way Eskom had “bent over backwards” to accommodate and favour Tegeta in securing its coal supplies.

Former finance minister and committee member Pravin Gordhan - with the agreement of African Christian Democratic Party MP Steve Swart - said Singh should be declared a delinquent director‚ which includes a person who has grossly abused his position as director and intentionally or by gross negligence inflicted harm on the company.

Being declared a delinquent director would prohibit Singh from ever becoming a director of any board in the country.

Gordhan cited several cases where Singh had contravened the Public Finance Management Act and said he should be charged for this. This included not informing Treasury or the Department of Public Enterprises of significant transactions.

Swart noted that Singh had failed “dismally” in performing his duties as chief financial officer.

Singh defended his performance at Eskom during his two-year stint as chief financial officer‚ saying there had been profit improvement‚ cost savings‚ better cash generation and stronger liquidity.

He continued to maintain that the suspect transactions had represented value for Eskom.

Swart contested this view‚ pointing to the deterioration in Eskom’s finances — which he said was attributable to management and the board.

On Wednesday head of generation Matshela Koko - who also allegedly played a key role in concluding these contracts - comes before the committee.

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