Anoj Singh should lose accounting licence and go to jail
“Anoj Singh is a wrecking ball. This man should never practice as an accountant again,” says Dominique Msibi, OUTA’s portfolio manager for special projects.
“It is time for Singh to face the music and take accountability for his actions related to state capture and his misconduct within Eskom.”
Singh resigned from Eskom last night, shortly before his scheduled appearance before the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises; he is still expected to appear. He was Eskom’s Chief Financial Officer, on special leave since 27 July last year and suspended since September. He has been at the centre of claims of massive corruption in Eskom but, despite his suspension, there has been no action against him by Eskom.
“His departure can only improve Eskom’s financial position,” says Msibi.
“We want his letter of resignation made public. We want to know the exact terms of his departure, particularly in the light of the confusion over whether Brian Molefe resigned, retired or received a payout. We also want the new board to make sure that Singh does not receive any bonus or shares payout.”
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) wants Singh to face both criminal charges and civil action to recover missing funds.
“We implore the Portfolio Committee and the new board to continue the process of holding him to account and to ensure that he faces the full might of the law,” says Msibi.
OUTA expects that if Singh does appear before the Portfolio Committee, he will attempt to avoid responsibility. “We expect Singh to plead ignorance on everything and throw everyone else under the bus,” says Msibi.
Singh was acting CFO at Eskom from 1 August 2015 and then his appointment was approved by Cabinet on 25 September 2015. He had been at Transnet as CFO since July 2012 and was acting CFO there since 2009. Singh and Brian Molefe and run Transnet together then moved within months of each other to Eskom. This pair controlled the spending first at Transnet then at Eskom, the two biggest SOEs and both targets of state capture.
Singh leaves a trail of unanswered questions over Eskom’s finances.
“Singh became an absolute funnel for funds for the Guptas,” says Msibi.
In August last year, OUTA laid charges of corruption and financial misconduct against Singh at Randburg police station. “We trust that the Hawks and NPA will take action now,” says Msibi.
In September, OUTA filed a complaint about Singh to the South African Institute for Chartered Accountants (SAICA). This is still not finalised.
While Singh was CFO, Gupta-linked businesses benefited substantially from Eskom and there were additional unexplained problems with Eskom’s finances. Singh is at the centre of those allegations: even if he was not involved, as CFO, he should have stopped it.
The June 2017 investigation report by advocate Geoff Budlender, SC, who investigated Trillian over allegations of its use of inside political knowledge for commercial gain and links to the Guptas and their businesses, outlines some of the problems. The #GuptaLeaks emails, first obtained by AmaBhungane, provide further evidence.
In 2014 and 2015, Singh benefited from Gupta-funded trips to Dubai and the Guptas allegedly deposited money in an account for him; at an Eskom briefing in July last year he failed to explain these.
In December 2015, Singh authorised a R1.6 billion guarantee by Eskom to Absa bank, which was used by the Guptas’ Tegeta business to buy Optimum Coal Holdings.
In April 2016, Eskom provided Tegeta with a prepayment of R659.558 million; this was intended to help Tegeta when it ran short of money to buy Optimum at the last minute.
While Optimum was owned by Glencore, Eskom fined it R2 billion over inadequate coal quality and insisted that this fine would not be waived for a new owner; after the Guptas bought Optimum, this fined was mysteriously reduced to R577 million.
Between April and December 2016, Singh apparently bypassed the Eskom system to make payments totalling R419 million to Trillian, part of the Gupta business empire. These were based on Trillian’s claim that it was a subcontractor for Eskom consultants McKinsey, as there was no contract entitling Trillian to any payment from Eskom. In July last year, Eskom admitted that Trillian was paid R495 million and McKinsey was paid R900 million.
In 2016/17, Eskom ran up irregular expenditure of R2.996 billion under Singh’s watch, which the auditors said may not be the real number as Eskom did not have an adequate system for identifying and recognising all irregular expenditure.
In November last year, OUTA opposed Eskom’s price increase application (Eskom asked for 19.9% and was granted 5.23%). OUTA’s opposition was substantially based on Eskom’s chaotic finances, the secrecy over spending on its new build programme, inefficiency and failure to address corruption. Again, these finances were under Singh’s control. (OUTA’s submissions to NERSA are here and here.)
OUTA made submissions in July and October last year to the ongoing inquiry into Eskom by the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises.
“There is a fresh breeze blowing through South Africa. We have renewed hope that Eskom will be reclaimed and people like Anoj Singh will be held to account,” says Msibi.