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PIC inquiry resumes with more ex-employees expected to give evidence

Mar 11 2019 06:29
Sibongile Khumalo

The commission of inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation resumes on Monday, with more board members and past employees expected to give evidence on the governance of the state-owned asset manager.

The inquiry adjourned on Wednesday after hearing from former IT manager Vuyokazi Menye, who was suspended from the company in November 2017.

Menye faced a number of misconduct charges, including withholding information regarding a police investigation of CEO Dan Matjila. 

As head of Information Technology, Menye was at the forefront of securing the company’s information system from anonymous emails which contained allegations of corruption against Matjila.

Last week, Menye described how Matjila and then chief financial officer, Matshepo More, attempted to block the circulation of emails by the anonymous whistleblower who went by the moniker "James Nogu".

Nogu’s emails, which first surfaced in August 2017, threw the corporation into turmoil, prompting a frenzied attempt by directors, including Matjila, to uncover Nogu's identity. Nogu’s emails lifted the lid on the financing of a company owned by woman said to be Matjila’s girlfriend.

Matjila was cleared of any wrongdoing, based on the findings of an internal investigation by the PIC board.

Menye and her subordinate, Siphiwe Mayisela, who has also given evidence, were later dismissed from the corporation. Mayisela had been charged with failing to inform Matjila of the police investigation against him.

The inquiry, which is probing allegations of impropriety at Africa's largest asset manager, has heard testimonies of several PIC board members and past employees, who have spoken out about a breakdown in adherence to good governance in recent years, including the unfair system of bonus payment and salary increases.

According to the commission’s terms of reference, the inquiry is required to probe whether the allegations of corruption which publicly surfaced around 2017 and 2018 contravened any contractual obligations of the officials implicated or resulted in any undue benefit for them, their associates or family members.

The inquiry has also heard how Matjila overruled concerns regarding the R4.3bn financing of AYO Technology Solutions, ahead of its listing on the JSE in December 2017.

The funding criteria of the company, in which businessman Iqbal Surve has a substantial indirect stake, has been described as flawed, and was concluded without following due process.

The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission has ordered the PIC directors to recover the R4.3bn the corporation invested in AYO.

Other investments expected to be scrutinised by the inquiry include investments in VBS and Steinhoff.

The commission has already submitted its interim report to President Cyril Ramaphosa, and a final report is expected to be handed over by April 15, 2019.

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