Singh offered McKinsey Consulting oversight role for R300 million in Manganese Project: Bester

Henk Bester says Hatch as the winners of the Transnet Mangenese tender were never informed that McKinsey Consulting would provide oversight on the project.

Former Managing Director of the company called ‘Rail for Hatch’, Henk Bester has told the State Capture Commission in Johannesburg that then Transnet Chief Financial Officer Anoj Singh had offered McKinsey Consulting an oversight role for R300 million in a Manganese Project that McKinsey knew very little about.

Bester says Hatch as the winners of the Transnet Mangenese tender were never informed that McKinsey would provide oversight on the project.

Bester says the revelation was made during a contract negotiation session with Transnet where he realised that McKinsey people were sitting in the next room listening in on the negotiations meeting.

“I notice that there were some cables running from microphones, like this on the carpet, to underneath the door outside to another boardroom. I think it was during one of the lunch sessions that I asked commercial lead from Transnet capital projects, Mrs Kuli Jan Van Reinsberg, ‘what are these cables? Where are they going? I’m gonna go and check what’s going on in the other boardroom.’ And then she said I’m not allowed to go in there because there’s McKinsey people in there.”

Earlier Bester told the State Capture Commission in Johannesburg that he was approached by Gupta associate, Salim Essa, who wanted Hatch to include Essa’s company as a supply partner for Phase 2 of a Transnet Rail Project worth R800 million.

Bester says they had estimated the Manganese project would cost Transnet R27 billion, but the project was divided in two phases to manage costs.

Bester says Essa demanded, at the Melrose Arch meeting in April 2013, that he be partnered with Hatch for the Transnet business at a cost of R80 million.

He says he first encountered Salim Essa when Essa took over an earlier meeting which Hatch executives had arranged with former Transnet Chief Financial, Anoj Singh, to discuss payments. He says Essa boasted about how much power he and his associates had.

The Commission will continue to hear Transnet related testimony from the Executive Manager in the Finance Department of Transnet Freight Rail, Yousuf Laher, when proceedings continue on Wednesday.