Maritz signed billion rand loan agreement despite board reservations
Johannesburg - The Zondo commission has heard how former Eskom interim CEO Sean Maritz signed a controversial long term billion rand facility agreement with a Chinese consortium even after Eskom board expressed reservations about the deal.
The deal was part of an R25 billion loan that Eskom would receive from Hourang Energy Africa, a Chinese and South African consortium.
The money was meant to enable Eskom to maintain its powers stations.
Eskom treasurer Andre Frank Pillay told the commission that Maritz signed the deal even though the Eskom board had expressed reservation about the deal. Pillay said Maritz signed it on the same day that the board had expressed its unease, and said he had received approval from the public enterprise's minister Lynne Brown.
"Maritz returned from Cape Town and said he was prepared to sign. He had sent an email to the CFO asking why we were not signing the deal. He then signed a long-term facility and not a short-term facility.
"The $19.2 million was immediately payable. This was the contentious part of this deal. I had indicated to them that as a state-owned entity we cannot pay even before seeing anything," said Pillay.
The deal would have committed Eskom to pay about $19 million, which amounts to over R200 million, immediately after the deal was signed. Pillay said the invoice was sent by Hourang after the deal was signed.
Earlier, Pillay told the commission how former Eskom chief financial officer Anoj Singh had insisted on term sheets being signed with Hourang which were non-binding.
Pillay said he had reservations about signing the term sheets without processes being followed.
"It was sent to me and I was uncomfortable about singing term sheets because we were not used to signing term sheets like this, but Singh said I should not worry because it was non-binding. It was unprecedented to sign term sheets," he said.
The deal was not even shown to the power utilities legal department. Singh had left Eskom by the time the deal was signed.
Pillay said as he was concerned he notified National Treasury what had happened.
Maritz was suspended from Eskom in January 2018. He later resigned. He was also accused of signing off on a kickback deal and that matter is currently being investigated by the Special Investigative Unit.
Earlier in the week, Eskom board chair Jabu Mabuza said Eskom would not pay back what Hourang claims the utility owes them.IOL