Treasury asks Hawks to probe Singh
Controversial former Transnet and Eskom chief financial officer Anoj Singh’s cash purchase of a R6-million property in Durban’s posh Umhlanga Rocks suburb is part of a series of suspicious transactions that the treasury has referred to the elite crime-fighting unit, the Hawks, for investigation.
The purchase happened in the same month as the mysterious movement by Singh of R16-million, according to a draft forensic report commissioned by the treasury.
The suspicious transactions were uncovered during an investigation conducted by Fundudzi Forensic Services on behalf of the treasury into dubious multibillion-rand contracts between Eskom and Gupta-owned and associated companies.
The report has yet to be finalised and has been given to the people mentioned in it for their comment.
During July 2016, Singh transferred R16-million from his personal account, which had a balance of R19-milion, into two other “investment accounts” of his own. The money was then moved back into his personal account and then transferred again. It is suspected this final transferral was into the trust accounts of two law firms.
“It is not clear how Singh accumulated a balance of R19-million that was in his account,” said Fundudzi Forensic Services in its draft report to the treasury. “It is also not clear why he transferred R16-million on July 14 2016 into two other accounts.
“The amounts in Singh’s accounts will form part of the information we will hand over to the [Hawks] for further investigations.
“The [Hawks] will have to investigate whether some of these amounts may have been paid to Van Onselen Attorneys or any other attorney for paying for services rendered or procurement of valuable assets,” the draft report said. It has now emerged that part of the money transferred to Van Onselen Attorneys by Singh was meant for the purchase of a R6.2-million property in Umhlanga Rocks.
According to deeds office records, Singh and his wife, Diane, bought the house in July 2016 and it was registered in January 2017. There is no bond on the property and records from the treasury’s investigation show that a conveyancing fee of R620 000 was paid to Van Onselen Attorneys on July 11 2016.
The law firm’s director, David van Onselen, declined to divulge the details of the payments into his firm’s trust account but told the Mail & Guardian that the transaction didn’t go ahead.
“This transaction didn’t come to fruition because there were allegations of fraud against it. There were questions, so the property thing didn’t go ahead. It all went south when follow-ups were made,” he said.
Treasury insiders said Singh transferred part of the R19-million discovered in his personal account to other legal firms. The treasury wants the Hawks to conduct further investigations into the source of the money in Singh’s bank account. According to Eskom’s 2017 annual report, Singh was paid R7.2-million in salary and incentives.
The investigation into Singh and other Eskom executives followed allegations of impropriety at the power utility and how the Gupta-owned Tegeta Exploration and Resources was bought a coal mine by the state-owned entity using a R600-million prepayment. The Guptas were given a R600-million pre-payment by Eskom, which was paid just three days after a late-night special board tender committee resolution to pay it. This money was found to have aided the Guptas’ purchase of Optimum Coal Mine.
Without the 9pm resolution the infamous Saxonwold family, which had been denied loans by banks just hours before, would have missed the deadline to deposit the R 2.1-billion required to conclude the transaction.
It was also revealed in the draft report that Singh made overseas trips in 2012 organised and paid for by McKinsey, an international consulting firm implicated in state capture allegations. At the time, Singh was the group chief executive officer at Transnet before moving to Eskom.
McKinsey’s spokesperson Bonita Dordel denied the allegations that the company sponsored Singh’s overseas trips.
“These allegations are incorrect. Based on an extensive review encompassing interviews, email records and expense documents, our understanding is that McKinsey did not pay for Mr Singh’s airfare and hotel lodgings in connection with the CFO [chief financial officer] forum and the meetings that took place around the CFO forum in London and elsewhere in 2012 and 2013,” she said.
“It is important to emphasise that the report is only a draft — and that McKinsey did not have an opportunity to review these draft ‘findings’ until after they appeared in media reports.
“Accordingly, the national treasury did not have the benefit of our perspective and the knowledge we gained from our own extensive investigation,” said Dordel.
Singh declined to comment when asked about the allegations contained in the report.
“I have no obligation to say anything to you,” he said. “If I have anything to say I’ll say it to the law enforcement agencies and the commission of inquiry. Publish whatever you want to publish.”
Among the revelations
A 500-page draft national treasury forensic report by Fundudzi Forensic Services, investigating allegations at Eskom and Transnet, has detailed how the state-owned entities were weakened:
- Former Eskom and Transnet chief financial officer Anoj Singh was requested between 2015 and 2016 to make deposits into local and international accounts by then Eskom chief executive and Eskom board chairperson, Brian Molefe and Ben Ngubane, respectively.
- The report reveals how former Eskom executive for generation Matshela Koko and Eskom’s former acting head for fuel sourcing Ayanda Nteta worked overtime to benefit the Gupta family in their coal supply contract as well as their purchase of Optimum Mine.
It alleges that senior staff members fixed proposal documents for Tegeta Exploration, a Gupta-owned company, that would later be sent to Eskom for a coal delivery prepayment of more than R600-million. The report found Koko intimidated officials when the coal was substandard. Koko has denied this.
- Singh enjoyed several trips at the expense of consulting firm McKinsey, which scored multibillion-rand contracts at the state-owned entities. McKinsey has denied impropriety.
- The report recommends that Singh’s conduct with McKinsey should be referred to the Hawks for investigation under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.
- The report says Ngubane wanted to blacklist newspapers — the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times and City Press — deemed to be critical of the power utility.
- The report shows how Transnet overpaid China South Rail by R509-million in a locomotive procurement contract that was not put out to tender.
- Treasury confirmed receiving the draft report and set parties a two-week deadline to respond. It added it would make the report public once it has reviewed all responses. — Sabelo Skiti & Thanduxolo Jika