Former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh says he didn’t know how he ended up on a flight with controversial Gupta family members and associates in 2014.
Singh took the stand at the state capture inquiry on Tuesday. He explained that he had taken a flight to Dubai on 6 June 2014 and returned on 8 June.
The 8 June flight is one of several that are under scrutiny by the commission.
The inquiry spent the latter part of the day on Singh's 8 June flight back to Johannesburg, which he shared with several people linked to the Gupta family.
The passengers on the flight included Rajesh Gupta; Dubai-based Gupta lieutenant Sanjay Grover; former Denel CEO Riaz Saloojee; Michael Hully, who has previously been former president Jacob Zuma's attorney; Gupta ally Salim Essa; and former Denel CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe.
Singh told the commission that being on the same flight was not planned.
"It's either coincidence or divination on the part of the travel agent, that they arranged your trip from Dubai to Johannesburg, on the same date, 8 June 2014?" asked evidence leader advocate Pule Seleka.
To which Singh said it may have been, since he had not asked anyone to help him make a booking, nor did he tell the agency he normally used, that he would be travelling from Dubai to Johannesburg on 8 June.
'Supernatural powers at play'
"Mr Chair, I'm not so sure, maybe it's a coincidence or [it was divination] as you will see throughout the affidavit … some supernatural powers were at play," he said, laughing.
Singh was referring to an affidavit by Travel Excellence employee Sameera Sooliman, who said she was introduced to Singh by Essa in 2014, something he said he did not recall. In her affidavit, Sooliman told the commission that the invoice for the June trip was added to Singh's account, but the R9 100 cost was charged to Essa's account.
Singh, however, said he did not ask Travel Excellence to make the booking for him.
Singh resigned from Eskom in 2018, following his suspension. During his time at Eskom, consulting firm Trillian Management Consulting, which was co-founded by associate Salim Essa, received millions of rand in payment for a corporate plan before a contract had been signed.
Earlier in his testimony, Singh told the commission that he had been part of meetings at Eskom that involved consultancy firm McKinsey and Regiments Capital, prior to his appointment in 2015.