/ 25 June 2019

I had no role in PIC’s Ayo investment says suspended acting CEO

Suspended acting PIC CE Matshepo More testifying before the Mpati inquiry.
Suspended acting PIC CE Matshepo More testifying before the Mpati inquiry. (YouTube)

Matshepo More, the suspended Public Investment Corporation (PIC) acting chief executive, has denied she played a role in the approval of the R4.3-billion investment deal between the PIC and Ayo Technology Solutions.

More was put on precautionary suspension in March following allegations she was been interfering with inquiry — chaired by Justice Lex Mpati — which is looking into issues of impropriety at the state asset manager.

READ MORE: Suspended acting CEO denies victimising PIC staff

The transaction between the company linked to controversial businessman Iqbal Survé and the state asset manager was under the spotlight of the commission on Tuesday.

While continuing her testimony at the commission on Tuesday, More refuted the testimony given by the PIC’s assistant portfolio manager Victor Seanie in January when he told the inquiry that he had raised concerns prior to the listing of the deal on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 2017.

These included the “unreasonably” short amount of time to process the ICT’s group valuation and that he did not believe that the Ayo Transaction had any investment merit.

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More says Seanie was the compiler of a “disbursement memo” that detailed the transaction. She added that the document was signed by other high-level officials at the PIC in December 2017 before the company’s listing including, among others, Seanie himself, Gaanewe Adams (on behalf of head of listed investments, Fidelis Madavo) and former chief executive, Dan Matjila.

“Mr. Seanie’s statement that I tried to explore a different way of presenting that he did not request for the PMC (portfolio management committee) as he did not support the transaction, is clearly factually incorrect,” she says.

More says she signed the memo on December 19 2017 “for the sole purpose of confirming that the requisite funds are available” and that her signature did not constitute an approval of the transaction.

The former PIC chief financial officer said that she only signed the memo because she was under the impression that it had already been approved through a “round robin” resolution of the PMC. Shortly after she signed the memo, More says that she was told by former head of risk and compliance at the PIC, Paul Magula that the 75% requirement for the PMC approval of the Ayo Transaction had not been reached.

Magula and the head of legal Ernest Nesane have since been debarred from the financial services sector after they were found to be unfit and improper in terms of the standards of the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act.

READ MORE: PIC man digs himself a deep hole

More says that she then took it upon herself to ensure that due diligence was followed by informing general manager of finance, Brian Mavuka to not do anything further in processing the funds until the Disbursement Memo is approved.

“I further contacted Dr Matjila informing him of the instruction that I had given to the finance team and that in the circumstances this transaction can only be implemented if due process is followed,” she says.

Asked by the commission’s evidence leader, Jannie Lubbe SC whether or not Matjila had informed her of the Ayo transaction prior to her signing the Disbursement Memo, More replied that Matjila had “obligation” to tell her.

The inquiry continues.

Thando Maeko is an Adamela Trust business reporter at the Mail & Guardian.