'Anoj Singh was going to sign this thing' no matter what - $2bn Eskom loan under scrutiny

01 March 2019 - 16:27 By Amil Umraw
Judge Raymond Zondo has heard how an unsolicited proposal for a 'financing solution' came with a commitment fee of about R400m and stiff penalty clauses. The inquiry into state capture heard that the deal was 'covered in the fingerprints of Anoj Singh', the utility’s former finance boss.
Judge Raymond Zondo has heard how an unsolicited proposal for a 'financing solution' came with a commitment fee of about R400m and stiff penalty clauses. The inquiry into state capture heard that the deal was 'covered in the fingerprints of Anoj Singh', the utility’s former finance boss.
Image: Alon Skuy

Eskom treasurer Andre Pillay described to the state capture inquiry on Friday how the utility entered into a dodgy billion-dollar loan agreement with Chinese-based business Huarong Energy Africa.

This was the same deal that eventually resulted in former Eskom chief information officer Sean Maritz being suspended and which is covered in the fingerprints of state capture-implicated Anoj Singh, the utility’s former finance boss.

Pillay told deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, who is heading the commission, that in 2015 his office was approached by a consortium consisting of Tribus Capital and Huarong. Later, in June 2016, the cash-strapped utility received a formal unsolicited proposal from Huarong for a "financing solution" to build or refurbish its power stations.

A "non-binding" term sheet was presented to the utility.

The contract outlined the $2bn loan Eskom would receive, but it had caveats. There was a commitment fee of about R400m and an even larger penalty if Eskom backed out.

"Singh was going to sign this thing regardless of what I said," Pillay said.

Singh allegedly ignored legal advice by an independent law firm, White & Case, and other officials at Eskom who said the terms were ambiguous - signing off on the deal in March 2017.

After Singh resigned under a cloud in January last year, Maritz allegedly approved the R400m commitment fee, or prepayment, to Huarong.  

Pillay said he was summoned to Maritz's office before the prepayment was signed.

He alleged he was intimidated for not complying with the deal.

"It arose from the fact that I did not co-operate with the process. I viewed it as a way of trying to put pressure on me or to intimidate me. He (Maritz) called me to his office and pulled out a folded piece of paper. There were a few lines typed. Maritz said there was a whistleblower report which said I was implicated in a bribe with a Russian company … I did not even read the piece of paper."


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