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Safe deposit boxes and mystery trips: Anoj Singh in the Zondo Commission hot seat

Safe deposit boxes and mystery trips: Anoj Singh in the Zondo Commission hot seat

  • Former Transnet CFO Anoj Singh had to answer questions at the state capture inquiry on Thursday about his daily movement when he was with the parastatal.
  • This included frequent visits to a safe deposit box business in Johannesburg and trips to the United Arab Emirates.
  • These details related to transactions, movements and travel come from the Gupta leaks.

Former Transnet chief financial officer Anoj Singh's appearance at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture saw him fielding sticky questions of his daily movements, and travels while he was at the rail and logistics parastatal.

In an appearance on Thursday morning, Singh maintained that there was nothing suspicious about his movements during his time at Transnet, which included frequent visits to a safe deposit box business in Johannesburg and trips to the United Arab Emirates.

The Emirate of Dubai is has particularly become synonymous with associations with the controversial Gupta family, which has long been implicated in the plunder of state-owned resources and the financial ruin of South Africa's now embattled parastatals.

These details related to transactions, movements and travel come from the Gupta leak documents that emerged in 2017. The leaks were some of the most complete sets of documents building a case for state capture with the Gupta family at the helm.

Why all the safe deposit boxes?

Evidence leader Advocate Anton Myburgh quizzed Singh, starting off it with questioning him about his visits to a business called Knox Vault. Myburgh said Singh had eight safe deposit boxes from this business of various sizes and asked Singh what the purposes of the boxes was.

"Would you now say that you had two vaults or boxes for each family member. Initial evidence said you had four of these boxes; one for each family member. Now what we have before us suggests you had eight. What is the explanation?" asked Myburgh.

Singh said he used the boxes for information and items and documents that were relevant to him at the time. He added that if there was a discrepancy between what previous boxes said about the number of boxes and his current evidence, it was because he never addressed it directly.

"I did say I did not recall the number of boxes I had at the time. The issue of Knox Vault was not put to me. The detail relating to Knox Vault what we are discussing was not put to me," said Singh.

Myburgh asked Singh if he acquired a small safe box and made annual cash payments between 2013 and 2014, which included a refundable key deposit and a small safety deposit box rental paid in cash. Singh said yes.

The 'extra-extra-large' box

Evidence showed Singh paid amounts ranging between R1 700 and R6 000 during the 2014 period. He later acquired an extra-large box to go with the six he had at that time. He then bought an extra-extra-large box at a discount.

In 2016 he cancelled the facility and returned the keys, stating that he no longer required the boxes. Singh said he was not sure why he was given a discount for the extra-extra-large box at about R6 740. Myburgh asked Singh why he got two large boxes in May of 2014.

"I don't recall why these events occurred or why these boxes increased. But as I stated, the content of these boxes related to personal items and documents. My ex-wife and I were going through a separation and ... I needed to move items out of my residence at the time, these came to use," Singh said.

Myburgh estimated that a large box cost about R4 000 a year, an extra-large cost R5 000 and extra-extra-large box could cost as much as R10 000, which meant that Singh could have paid as much as R35 000 a year for all of the boxes.

"As I testified before, the boxes did contain cash. I used some of that case to pay for [the cash boxes] and I would replenish that cash from time to time," Singh explained.

Myburgh asked about another former Transnet CFO Garry Pita, whose evidence suggests he, too, acquired boxes from Knox Vault from time to time and had the similar number of boxes. "I cannot comment on that," Singh responded.

The line of questioning shifted towards Singh's daily movements, as Myburgh asked Singh about "witness 3's" claims that he drove Singh around while he was at Transnet and that Singh did not go anywhere without him knowing about it.

"...you attested that someone would collect [you] and drive [you] around the whole day and take [you] back home. So, seeing that you went to Knox Vault nine times during the week, surely Witness 3 would have taken you there. Who else would have taken you there?" Myburgh asked.

"The witness also said that my personal vehicle was parked at Transnet during the week and that is the vehicle that I would have used to visit Knox Vault," Singh answered.

Visits were 'personal'

Singh said his driver took him to Carlton Centre during the working week and he drove himself to Knox Vault all the times that he went there.

Commission chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo asked Singh why he would not want his personal driver to know that he may need to be driven to Knox Vault.

Singh said the visits to Knox Vault were personal, to which Zondo insisted that driving him there did not mean he would have to be privy to the details.

Myburgh asked about five trips that Singh took to Dubai. Singh said it was not unusual for Transnet officials to go on international trips and roadshows to meet with sovereign credit rating agencies.

He asked Singh about trips and hotel stays that appeared to be paid for by Rajesh Gupta before Singh's lawyer asked that they be given an opportunity to ensure they had all the bundles and evidence being referred to during the hearing.

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