Former Transnet chief financial officer Anoj Singh has again dismissed allegations that the trips he made to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were paid for by the Gupta family.
Singh, who is implicated in dodgy dealings with the Guptas, testified at the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture on Thursday, where he was questioned about his frequent trips to Dubai.
Explaining his relationship with the Guptas during his testimony early in March, Singh told the commission chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo his association with the family started around 2011 and 2012, when he met Atul, Rajesh and Ajay Gupta.
The former Transnet official said he visited the Guptas on occasions for religious and cultural functions. However, he denied he knew them personally.
When asked by evidence leader Anton Myburgh on why he used the same travel agent as Gupta-owned company Sahara Computers and family associate Salim Essa, Singh claimed it was a coincidence.
Singh disputed claims that his flights to the Middle Eastern city were paid for by Essa.
“I was of the view that I was booking on my own, which I then paid for on my own. I had no recollection or association with the fact that the accounting administration of Travel Excellence was in fact allocating my tickets to Mr Essa’s account,” he said.
Singh admitted the travel agency arranged multiple other trips, which he said were for vacations and private business, and that he paid by way of cash or electronic transfers.
This related to Sameera Sooliman’s affidavit, who works for the Johannesburg-based travel agency, that Essa paid for a number of Singh’s trips, which coincided with visits by other parties allegedly implicated in state capture.
“Let me clarify. chair, when I say they were not business trips, I meant in relation to official trips for Transnet purposes, so they were private in that sense. At some stage I went there for vacation. On some occasions I was there to expand my personal network in the UAE,” he said.
The former Transnet official also admitted to have once being on the same flight as Essa. However, he was not aware of that at the time.
He further told the commission he was unaware of the presence of Essa or the Guptas in Dubai during the time when he was also there.