Disciplinary action against former Eskom and Transnet CFO on track
JOHANNESBURG – The South African African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) on Wednesday forged ahead with the disciplinary hearing of disgraced former Eskom and Transnet chief financial officer Anoj Singh, describing him as a central figure in the controversial multibillion-rand acquisition of 1064 locomotives by the freight rail and logistics operator in 2014.
Independent disciplinary committee chairperson Mohammed Chohan said Singh informed the hearing through his lawyers that he had elected not to participate, but did not object to the proceedings continuing.
Advocate Hamilton Maenetje, presenting the case for Saica, said Singh misled Transnet about cost savings when he presented the locomotive deal with four global original equipment manufacturers in 2013.
Maenetje said Singh’s presentation excluded forecast increases based on potential currency fluctuations, as it was not based on the rand.
He said this later caused problems for Transnet, as the figures had to be adjusted for foreign exchange.
“Mr Singh played a critical role, a leading role, in the procurement process,” Maenetje said.
Transnet’s acquisition of the locomotives ballooned by R15.9billion from the budgeted R38.6bn to R54.5bn.
Singh is facing 18 charges, including allegations of conducting himself with gross negligence and/or dishonesty, and breaching certain clauses and contravening by-laws during his tenure at Transnet and Eskom.
Transnet has gone to court to recoup inflated payments from advisory group Regiments Capital, which Singh and other executives allegedly colluded to fraudulently make the parastatal transfer to R151million to Regiments in overpayments.
Saica has temporarily suspended Singh’s membership, pending the outcome of the disciplinary hearing.
Former Transnet strategy manager Francis Callard said consultancy firm McKinsey & Company changed an original business case for the locomotives from seven years to less than that, after it was brought in to validate or develop the business case.
He said Singh was in contact with a McKinsey staffer, who sent him a presentation with details of the forex forecasts, but when Singh brought the presentation before Transnet the slide with forex forecasts was gone.
“I would contend that this was a deliberate change. It was not an accidental change, but a deliberate change by the author of the slide and that was on instruction,” Callard said.
Saica chief executive Freeman Nomvalo said the accountancy body would continue doing its work whether or not Singh was present at the hearing.
“Saica remains resolute and committed to investigate and where appropriate conduct disciplinary hearings in all instances of alleged improper conduct by members, including member involvement in unethical business practices which are in contravention of the Saica Code of Professional Conduct,” Nomvalo said.