Anoj Singh

Johannesburg - South Africa's state-owned power utility Eskom said on Friday that it has suspended Anoj Singh, its chief financial officer implicated in irregular dealings with the politically-connected Gupta business empire, and taken disciplinary action against former acting chief executive, Matshela Koko. 

This comes after Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown gave Eskom a final ultimatum to clarify its relationship with Trillian Capital Holdings, a Gupta-linked company, after the utility admitted that it had lied about payments of more than R1.5 billion to Trillian.

Singh was placed on special leave in July amid mounting allegations of improper financial dealings by the power utility with companies in the Gupta stable. He has been suspended pending a disciplinary hearing.

The step follows months of tumult at Eskom, with government in May demanding the departure of Brian Molefe as chief executive after he was brought back to the position he left under a cloud last year when then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela questioned the circumstances under which a lucrative coal contract was given to Tegeta Exploration, which also belongs to the Gupta family.

Singh is alleged to have accepted trips abroad from the Gupta family after signing off on the deal with Tegeta and is facing questions about the payment of hundreds of millions of rands from the power company to Trillian without any clear benefit.

Eskom earlier claimed the payments were above board following the release of a damning report into Trillian by advocate Geoff Budlender.

Budlender was appointed by the former chairman of Trillian, Tokyo Sexwale, to investigate the company’s role in state capture. In his report, which was released in June, he found that Eskom paid Trillian R266 million for services without contracts in 2016.

Trillian is a financial services company in which Salim Essa, a close business associate of the Guptas, sold his controlling share in June as pressure over allegations of state capture mounted.

Meanwhile, Eskom said Koko's disciplinary hearing for alleged conflict of interest has been scheduled to commence within the next two weeks.

Koko was suspended earlier this year pending an investigation into possible conflict of interest for awarding contracts worth at least R1 billion to a company in which his stepdaughter was a director. 

"Both Singh and Koko will be afforded a fair disciplinary process," Eskom said in a statement.