Johannesburg – Eskom chief information officer Sean Maritz has been suspended pending an investigation into allegations of impropriety, the power utility said on Wednesday.
“He was placed on temporary suspension last Friday, which has now been converted into a permanent suspension,” according to a tweet by Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe.
The former interim CEO of Eskom faced scrutiny for his role in signing off on a questionable R400m payment from Eskom to a Hong Kong bank account, against all legal advice.
The R400m is widely viewed as a kickback and was apparently made to secure a $2bn (or R25bn) loan from China’s Huarong Energy Africa to build or refurbish power stations last year.
Energy analyst Chris Yelland revealed the documents showing the deal on Tuesday last week, which appeared to show that Maritz did indeed sign off on a promised fee for securing the loan, as well as an invoice sent to Eskom for the fee.
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown gave the Eskom board an ultimatum to hand her a report on the controversial loan agreement by close of business last Friday.
She said that should any impropriety appear to have been committed, she would take immediate and decisive action.
The agreement first came to light when Business Day reported that former Eskom chief financial officer Anoj Singh negotiated a secret deal, which obligated Eskom to pay the R400m “signature fee” to an obscure offshore entity in Hong Kong for raising the $2bn loan.
Singh resigned from Eskom last week and was also questioned about the “sourcing fee” when he testified before the parliamentary inquiry into Eskom last Tuesday.
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