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Lawyers advised us not to disclose investment info to Parly, says PIC

Nov 21 2018 10:15
Lameez Omarjee, Fin24

The Public Investment Corporation has said it cannot share information on its investments with Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts, as it may subject the investment manager to litigation.

Chair of the PIC, deputy finance minister Mondli Gungubele, notified chairperson of the committee Themba Godi in a letter dated November 20, a day before the scheduled meeting. According to DA MP David Maynier, committee members were notified this morning. One of the committee members was overheard asking why a legal opinion was needed for the day's meeting.

The PIC was meant to brief the committee to address governance concerns, according to emailed correspondence between the parties seen by Fin24. The committee requested information and documents on all the PIC's transactions, including listed and unlisted investments concluded in the last three years, the amounts of transactions concluded, transactional advisors and sponsors, and amounts paid by PIC to the transactional advisors and sponsors.

The PIC was also requested to disclose BEE consortiums in those transactions, and details of individuals or legal entities who participated in the consortium. The committee further requested information on transactions concluded with parties classified as prominent, influential persons, and details of individuals or companies funded by the PIC or who participated in PIC transactions more than once in the past three years.

Client information 'confidential'

But in the letter to Godi, Gungubele said the PIC sought legal advice to determine if it would be lawful and not in violation of any statute to disclose all information and documents regarding the request.

"I must indicate that this step was informed by a preliminary view that was held by our management that some of the information, if disclosed, may lead to the PIC being subjected to litigation from third parties, as it is clients' information that is confidential," the letter read.

Gungubele recognised that it was important for the PIC to "gain confidence" from stakeholders through being transparent and forthright with information, when required. "I have found myself unable to ignore the legal advice received," Gungubele said.

The PIC requested to deliberate with the committee on the matter.

At the start of the meeting, Godi explained that Scopa had heard rumours of mismanagement at PIC, which was why the committee had requested the information.

Godi said the committee's main concern was to prevent mismanagement of public funds. Scopa had requested the meeting as far back as June 2018, and still has not received the information from PIC, Godi said.

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