Accounting watchdog finds Anoj Singh guilty on 12 charges, strips him of membership
- Anoj Singh has had his membership of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants revoked after he was found guilty in a disciplinary hearing.
- Singh was the former chief financial officer of state-owned entities Eskom and Transnet.
- He said he had no comment after the ruling was made public.
Accounting watchdog the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants has stripped former Eskom and Transnet chief financial officer Anoj Singh of his membership after an independent disciplinary committee found him guilty on 12 of the 18 charges levelled against him.
Singh, who never attended the disciplinary hearing, was charged for dishonesty, gross negligence and for breaching a multitude of by-laws.
He was ordered pay half of his disciplinary hearing's costs.
"The process has concluded. So, I don't have any comments. We will engage them about the costs," said Singh on Friday.
The 18 charges related to his conduct while he was the CFO of Transnet and later of Eskom between 2012 and 2015. SAICA suspended Singh's membership in July 2019, and began a disciplinary hearing against him in November 2019. The hearing concluded last month.
Among other things, the disciplinary committee found that while at Transnet, Singh misled the board's acquisitions and disposals committee about the cost of 1064 locomotives meant to upgrade its ageing fleet.
The locomotive contract was marred by controversy when post-tender negotiations resulted in an increase in the total cost of acquiring these from R38.6 billion to R54.5 billion.
- READ | Transnet wants court to clear R54bn 'unlawful' contract for 1064 locomotives
The disciplinary committee said that while it found former Transnet engineer Francis Callard's evidence littered with speculation and expression of opinions on matters which he did not have expertise in, expert witness Alister Chabi was credible and convincing. Chabi found that even with hedging and price escalations, the price for acquiring the locomotives should have remained R38.6 billion.
"We therefore find Mr Singh guilty of improper conduct ... by conducting himself grossly negligently in failing to ensure that the business case accurately and clearly stated that the initial costs of R38.6 billion included the potential effects from forex hedging, forex escalation and other price escalations," read part of the finding by the committee.
With respect to some of the charges, the committee found it was "unable" to conclude that Singh was grossly negligent or misled Transnet. For others, it made no findings but said it wanted to "express the view" that it would have had difficulty in concluding that Singh was dishonest in misleading the acquisitions committee or the Transnet's board.
On Eskom, where SAICA instituted seven charges against Singh including payments to McKinsey, Trillion, Tegeta Mine and his relationship with the Gupta family, the disciplinary committee said it could not conclude that Singh broke its by-laws by approving payment for McKinsey.
However, it did find him guilty of improper conduct in approving a payment of over R30 million to Trillion. It said Singh paid Trillion's invoices "without ascertaining whether the payments could and should be made."
"Mr Singh as Eskom's Chief Financial Officer ought to have been more diligent. Does this lack of due diligence constitute gross negligence as suggested by the Institute? We are of the view that it does," wrote the committee.
It also found him guilty for transgressing the rules by issuing of a Performance Guarantee of R1.68 billion in favour of Tegeta and for providing financial assistance to Tegeta in the amount of R600 million. It did not find him guilty of improper conduct for his relationship with the Guptas.