Corruption Watch prohibits 'delinquent' directors from holding future directorships

Corruption Watch has applied to have former Eskom directors including ex-CFO Anoj Singh declared delinquent.

In early February, civil society group Corruption Watch applied to the Pretoria High Court to have five former Eskom board members declared delinquent for their involvement in corrupt activities at Eskom. 

“The directors abused their positions in order to benefit other entities and individuals rather than the interests of Eskom and, by necessary extension, the people of South Africa.”

According to the Companies Act, the court declares an director delinquent if he or she has abused the position, taken personal advantage of information or opportunities, or caused harm through gross negligence while serving in that position.

David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, says it is vital to send a message to those in high office that there are consequences to abusing their positions: “This case is about sending a message that a directorship in a state-owned company means more than looking for personal commercial opportunities while occupying a board position.” 

In a press release, Corruption Watch said: 

“Our application, which is brought in the public interest in terms of section 157(1)(c)  of the Companies Act 71 of 2008, focuses on the violation of fiduciary duties and gross negligence on the part of former board members.” 

The appeal is to prevent Mark Vivian Pamensky, Anoj Singh, Brian Molefe, Venete Jarlene Klein and Zethembe Wilfred Khoza from holding a directorship in a private company ever again, and for seven years in a state-owned company. 

Lewis says the five former directors have given notice of their intention to defend the court action, though have yet to file their replying affidavits.

The press release read: 

“Our case comes at a time when the full effects of the failure of Eskom leadership to maintain infrastructure, ensure good governance, and deliver on their mandate is felt all around the country - and especially by those who struggle every day just to survive.” 

Eskom and the minister of public enterprises are also cited as respondents to assist the court in coming to a decision.

Singh was CFO of Eskom until early 2018, serving alongside former CEO Molefe. Klein was appointed to the board in 2014 and resigned in 2017. Khoza served as chairman as well as head of the Board Tender Committee. 

They were  accused of contracting with Gupta-owned Tegeta for the supply of coal on terms that were uncommercial and caused harm to Eskom. They also failed to respond to Treasury and other arms of government in their effort to exercise oversight at the utility.

Pamensky joined the Eskom board in 2014. He was a close associate of the Guptas and former director of Gupta-owned Oakbay Resources. He resigned from the Eskom board in 2016 after emails were leaked, highlighting his role in sharing sensitive Eskom information to assist the Guptas in acquiring Optimum Coal