NEWS

Singh Suspended After Lenders Threaten Eskom

The DBSA is reportedly at the forefront of a group of lenders who threatened to revoke their loans to Eskom unless it acted.

28/07/2017 06:58 SAST | Updated 28/07/2017 07:16 SAST
Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Pylons carry electricity from a sub-station of state power utility Eskom outside Cape Town in this picture taken March 20, 2016.

Lenders threatened to recall their loans to Eskom if no action was taken against the power utility's chief financial officer, Anoj Singh, leading to his suspension on Thursday, Business Day reported on Friday.

Finance minister Malusi Gigaba also reportedly pressured Eskom into taking the surprise step, following pressure from lenders. Eskom has R361 billion in debt, of which R94 billion is not guaranteed by government, Business Day reported.

Chief among these lenders was apparently the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) which threatened to recall a R15 billion loan. The conditions of that loan are reportedly that Eskom maintains a clean audit. But the utility received a qualified audit last week, including R3 billion in unauthorised expenditure.

According to Business Day, Gigaba met with DBSA earlier this week as well as several other Eskom lenders.

Singh is central to allegations of state capture at the power utility owing to the GuptaLeaks, which have placed him close to the Gupta family. The former Transnet CEO is also alleged to have travelled to Dubai at the Gupta's expense, at a time when the family was sealing controversial deals with Transnet. He has denied allegations of wrongdoing and says he will release a document soon, detailing responses to the allegations against him.

The DA has laid criminal charges against Singh for breaching the Public Finance Management Act.

While Eskom and public enterprises minister Lynne Brown previously appeared reluctant to act against him, they welcomed the board's decision to suspend him this week.

A spokesman for Gigaba told Business Day that the minister welcomed the move. Brown reportedly said the move "paved the way for the investigation to take place in a transparent way".