Fight between PIC and Iqbal Survé intensifies

16 October 2019 - 17:06 By Linda Ensor
Independent Media's Iqbal Surve. Picture: HETTY ZANTMAN
Independent Media's Iqbal Surve. Picture: HETTY ZANTMAN

The war of words between the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and Sekunjalo Investment Holdings chair Iqbal Survé intensified on Wednesday, with the state-owned asset manager rebuffing Survés ultimatum that it withdraw comments it made in parliament or face court action.

The PIC rejected certain claims made by Survé “as factually misplaced, opportunistic, flawed and deceitful” and said it would await the court action, BusinessLIVE reported.

PIC acting head of legal Lindiwe Dlamini said in a briefing to parliament's finance committee on Tuesday that the PIC was considering the liquidation of Sekunjalo because it had failed to repay a 2013 loan extended to the company so that it could purchase Independent Media SA.

Survé responded immediately to these comments saying that the PIC had no basis on which to liquidate Sekunjalo as the group did not owe the PIC any money and that to suggest otherwise was “deceitful, reckless and aimed to destroy and destabilise our business”.

Dlamini also said the PIC was considering legal action to obtain a court order against Sekunjalo's subsidiary Ayo Technology Solutions on the basis of a media report that it was siphoning of funds offshore. The PIC has initiated court action to reclaim a R4.3bn investment in Ayo and was mulling bringing an an anti-dissipation order to secure its claim should it transpire that money was being transferred abroad. If that order was granted it would effectively freeze Ayo's assets. 

The events in parliament follow a raid by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) on Sekunjalo Investment Holdings last Wednesday, related to an investigation into allegations of prohibited trading practices. The FSCA, which first announced the investigation in March, said the high court in Cape Town had granted the search-and-seizure order, allowing them to conduct the raid under the supervision of an independent attorney.

Survé said on Tuesday that Dlamini's comments and the FSCA raid were related and had been “purposefully designed to cause maximum harm” to Sekunjalo and to himself.

The PIC's response on Wednesday flies in the face of the ultimatum issued by Survé demanding that Dlamini correct her statements. He said she had to do this within the next 24 hours, failing which the group would proceed with the “appropriate action”.

PIC head of corporate affairs Deon Botha said in a statement on Wednesday that the asset manager “refutes claims by Dr Iqbal Survé that the comments made by the PIC during yesterday’s parliamentary session and past week’s FSCA raids are related”. 

“The correct position is that, the PIC is not a party to any regulatory investigation by the FSCA into Dr Survé or his business entities that led to past week's search and seizure operation by the FSCA. An attempt to link the PIC’s response and anticipated actions in respect of its investment in Sekunjalo and Ayo to past week’s raid at Sekunjalo’s Offices, is factually misplaced, opportunistic, flawed and deceitful,” Botha said.

“The PIC reserves its rights and will elect not to make further public statements at this time until any anticipated and real legal proceedings — of whatever form or manner they may take — are instituted before court.”