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Eskom yesterday admitted for the first time that it paid almost half a billion rand to Gupta-linked consultancy firm Trillian, saying that it now wanted an independent review of the contract. Acting Eskom chief executive John Dladla said Trillian was paid R495million for subcontracting for global consultant firm McKinsey.

Dladla said McKinsey received R900m of the total master service agreement of R1.4billion.

He said Eskom was asked to make the R495m payment directly to Trillian, despite the company not being on the database of contractors, adding that the utility had decided to review contracts with consultancy firms.

“Eskom has decided to commission an independent review to focus on the role of Trillian at Eskom in particular, and other consulting firms in general around consulting work at the company,” he said.

It also emerged yesterday that chief financial officer Anoj Singh, who has been implicated in Gupta leaked e-mails, signed a R1.6bn guarantee with Absa in December 2015, for the Tegeta Resources to pay for the Optimum Mine.

“The guarantee was issued and subsequently cancelled after it expired,” Singh told journalists at the meeting.

Khoza said he did not recall the signing of the guarantee and that the company would investigate it.

He said Singh would however not be disciplined for signing off the guarantee.

Acting Eskom chairperson Zethembe Khoza also defended Singh, arguing that the financial chief was innocent. He said the prepayment was prepared at “generation-level” and taken to the board.

He said Singh only got involved when the board’s finance subcommittee “requested him to come in and look at the business case”.

Singh said Eskom agreed to cut its R2.1bn fine for Optimum Coal to R577m following an arbitration process, and that R250m had already been paid.

The fine was imposed by Eskom to Glencore, a global diversified company, for producing poor quality coal at its Hendrina Power Station. Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane was reported to have helped the Gupta family acquire the mine after former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe refused to negotiate the fine with the company.

Singh said that the arbitration process uncovered that the reason for the poor quality coal was a faulty crusher which increased the volume of reject coal.

“Excluding the crusher issue, the claim would have been R777m,” Singh said. “That is why we believe that this is a reasonable settlement.”

The DA previously said a chain of the leaked e-mails revealed that Singh had been whisked off to Dubai in Gupta-funded trips.

Singh declined to comment on the trip.

“I am currently preparing a document which I will present to the board, Minister Lynne Brown and Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa),” Singh said.