Yousuf Laher is expected to continue giving evidence at the Zondo commission. Screengrab: SABC/YouTube
Yousuf Laher is expected to continue giving evidence at the Zondo commission. Screengrab: SABC/YouTube

LIVE FEED: State Capture Inquiry - October 22, 2020

By Noni Mokati Time of article published Oct 22, 2020

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Johannesburg - Yousuf Laher, the executive manager responsible for enterprise-wide business services in Transnet Freight Rail’s finance department, will continue giving evidence at the commission of inquiry into state capture today.

Yesterday, Laher told the commission that former Transnet chief financial officer Anoj Singh gave the green light to millions of rands in advanced and over payments.

Laher testified that he informed Singh that China South Rail (CSR) used incorrect exchange rates to determine their prices for 100 locomotives due to supply to the state-owned rail, logistics, port and pipeline company in 2014.

He said he had pointed out the use of incorrect exchange rates out to Singh and as a result they were adding R2.4 million per locomotive to the price.

WATCH FEED HERE

However, Laher testified that Singh said the R44m price quoted by CSR was reasonable considering the risk the company was willing to take.

Laher had calculated the locomotives to be R41m each while former Transnet Freight Rail chief procurement officer Thamsanqa Jiyane pitched at R38.5m and CSR disagreed, demanding a price of R49m.

”I raised with the bidders that in my view the pricing was excessive and too high and that they were using the incorrect exchange rates to determine their prices,” he said.

Laher also responded to retired Transnet electrical engineer Francis Callard’s evidence that he (Callard) was shocked and astounded when he received spreadsheets from him stating that CSR would obtain a 30% advanced payment and an increase of the estimated total cost from over R3.87 billion to about R4.84bn, a 25% adjustment to the price.

Callard told the commission last year that the increase was excessive and difficult to justify and referred to a National Treasury investigation that found that Transnet would have saved R1.2bn if it procured the 100 locomotives from Japanese railways rolling stock leasing company Mitsui.

Laher said he could not have approved the R1bn price increase as he did not have any delegation to approve the price.

Laher added that the price increase question should be asked to the steering committee in terms of why they accepted the price.

”I don’t know how that price was agreed to, we were told afterwards that this is the price that has been agreed to. I cannot be held responsible for the price where it is not my accountability. I was not involved, I never made the decision so it’s completely wrong where he (Callard) is trying to hold me accountable for something that I cannot be held responsible for,” he said.

Laher added that the price increase question should be asked to the steering committee in terms of why they accepted the price.

”I don’t know how that price was agreed to, we were told afterwards that this is the price that has been agreed to. I cannot be held responsible for the price where it is not my accountability. I was not involved, I never made the decision so it’s completely wrong where he (Callard) is trying to hold me accountable for something that I cannot be held responsible for,” he said.

Laher said during the locomotive transactions Singh was effectively in charge of the Transnet treasury.

”I raised issues to Singh about the pricing and during negotiations where I voiced out that I was not happy with the price myself,” he said.

Singh, according to Laher, told the negotiating team that Transnet had the funding available and that the advance payments were affordable.

”I agree, the quantum of the advanced payments would put a strain on Transnet funding and cash position should the rail volumes as envisaged in the market demand strategy not materialise,” he explained.

Political Bureau

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