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AYO investment: Suspended PIC exec Matshepo More looks to clear her name

Jun 25 2019 16:20
Sibongile Khumalo

Suspended Public Investment Corporation acting CEO and former CFO Matshepo More has sought to clear her name from allegations of governance failures linked to the controversial R4.3bn investment in AYO Technology Solutions in December 2017.

More was, as CFO, the second-most senior executive at the state-owned asset manager, after former CEO Dan Matjila. 

There have been allegations that AYO misrepresented its value, Fin24 reported previously.

More told the Mpati Commission of Inquiry into the PIC that she signed a disbursement memo for the investment only for the "purpose of confirming that the funds are available".

'Abnormal' procedure

The memo was signed prior to approval by the Portfolio Management Committee (PMC), in what went against normal procedure.

More emphasised that signing the memo did not need to have this resolution, adding that the CEO had the power to approve the disbursement of funds.

"I signed the disbursement memo for the sole purpose of confirming that the requisite funds are available," she said.

Evidence Leader Jannie Lubbe wanted to know if it had ever occurred before that the disbursement of funds was signed prior to approval by the PMC. More responded saying it was "abnormal"- and that the process was in contravention of delegation of authority.

She added that the funds, in excess of R5bn, were available in the company’s main bank account as at December 19, 2017.

'Create liquidity'

In March, the PIC Portfolio Manager of Listed Properties, Gaanewe Adams, told the inquiry that Matjila gave an instruction to the investment team to liquidate stocks in order to free up funds for the transaction.

"Dr Dan sent the instruction via email as requested which said that we should create liquidity to settle the subscription in AYO," Adams said in her testimony.

She referred to shares in various companies amounting to between R3.7bn - R3.8bn.

No high risks?

More also challenged large parts of evidence by suspended Assistant Portfolio Manager, Victor Seanie, who testified that the AYO due diligence was undertaken in an usually short space of time and that there were risks associated with the company.

"None of the risk elements identified in the credit report was given a high rating," More said.

AYO listed on the JSE on 21 December 2017, in a process that has dominated the PIC inquiry. The R4.3bn is now the subject of a hotly contested legal bid.

The PIC and the Government Employees Pension Fund have gone to court to force AYO to pay back the investment with interest, after the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission declared it unlawful.

More was in March suspended from the PIC, following allegations that she was interfering the work of the commission.

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