State capture: Anoj Singh throws Matshela Koko under the bus for R30m payment to Gupta-linked firm

18 March 2021 - 21:06 By mawande amashabalala
Former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh on Thursday told the Zondo commission that it was Matshela Koko who knew the terms and conditions of a contract the power utility had with Gupta-linked Trillian, for which Singh approved a controversial R30m payment. File photo.
Former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh on Thursday told the Zondo commission that it was Matshela Koko who knew the terms and conditions of a contract the power utility had with Gupta-linked Trillian, for which Singh approved a controversial R30m payment. File photo.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

Ex-Eskom CFO Anoj Singh on Thursday buckled under pressure at the Zondo commission, and threw his former colleague Matshela Koko under the bus.

Singh was being grilled over how he, as the parastatal's then finance boss, approved a R30m payment to Gupta-linked Regiments/Trillian without a proper contract in place and for no services rendered.

The contract in question was awarded to McKinsey to help Eskom develop a corporate plan.

However, McKinsey subcontracted 30% of the work, particularly that which related to the funding plan part of the corporate plan, to Regiments — which later transitioned to Trillian — at the time payment was made.

Trillian was paid before the conclusion of the contract and there was no proof that they performed the services for which they were paid.

Singh said he approved the payment to Trillian as it was his understanding that they were entitled to it as per their agreement with the main contractor — McKinsey.

According to Singh, he had no doubt that services were rendered and that a proper  contract was entered into. This because a board submission seeking a procurement deviation had stipulated all terms and conditions and deliverables of what was expected from McKinsey and Trillian.

And the person who was intimately involved and given the delegated authority to enter into the deal with McKinsey and its subcontractor on behalf of Eskom, said Singh, was then group executive for technology and commercial Matshela Koko.

Therefore, if there was anything wrong with the contract and invoice, he went on, it was Koko who was to blame.

“The delegated authority to sign the contract, as I correctly remember, was identified as Mr Matshela Koko who was at the time the group executive technology and commercial,” said Singh. “There was no need for me to look at the contract because the delegated authority to enter into the contract was Mr Koko. The inputs of the contract and the terms and conditions thereof were contained in the board submission that approved Mr Koko to conclude the contract.

“From my perspective I knew that the corporate plan was the deliverable, the contract. They had come and done what they needed to do and they had delivered. And therefore I was satisfied that work had been performed.” 

Commission chairperson, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, was not going to let Singh off the hook by merely placing Koko at the crime scene.

There was no need for me to look at the contract because the delegated authority to enter into the contract was Mr Matshela Koko
Ex-Eskom CFO Anoj Singh

To this end, Zondo pressed Singh on why the invoice was specifically sent to him.

Singh said it made sense because he was the go-to guy for the project to develop a corporate plan for Eskom.

And besides, Singh contended, it was unfair laying the blame at his door when the invoice went through many other people within Eskom's finance department who “all signed that work was done”.

Evidence leader Pule Seleka SC cornered Singh with his own evidence, asking why he approved the invoice that had Edwin Mabelane's name when he says it was Koko who had the delegated authority.

Chuckling, Singh responded: “All I can say is that it was not me. I am not sure if it was delegated to Mr Koko in his name or his position. There was an organisational change at some point where commercial was taken out of group technology and commercial, which could be the reason Mr Mabelane eventually signed. But as you can see the letter of acceptance was signed by Mr Koko.”

Singh denied playing a role in McKinsey subcontracting Regiments/Trillian despite him having met Regiments to discuss Eskom, even before he joined Eskom as CFO.

“Eskom awarded a contract to McKinsey worth R98m for the compilation of a corporate plan, McKinsey's subcontractor in this case being Regiments/Trillian.

“They decided the work that was allocated between the parties in terms of the 70/30 split. Because of Regiments' technical skill in the financial environment, they were awarded the finance aspects thereof which included the funding plan.”

The commission will on Friday hear testimony from former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown.

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