Survé now on the spot at the PIC commission

21 April 2019 - 00:00 By Sunday Times

The commission investigating allegations of wrongdoing at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is as important to the process of fixing our country as is the Zondo inquiry into state capture. If we are to clean up the mess that this country finds itself in today, we need this commission to carry out its mandate without fear or favour. The two commissions are critical because they are effectively investigating the looting of billions of rands from the public purse. Some of this money, mostly from state-owned enterprises, has already left the country.
The PIC commission is headed by retired judge Lex Mpati, who is assisted by former Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus and investments expert Emmanuel Lediga. Unfortunately, as important as its work is, few of us have followed its proceedings as closely as we have been following those of the Zondo commission. The progress that has been made by the Mpati commission is important because the PIC manages R2.2-trillion in investments on behalf of public servants. Over the years the PIC has been dogged by allegations of fraud and corruption, its investments were badly managed, and the fund invested mostly in companies that had close links to people with political power.
Since starting with its work last year, the Zondo commission has already been presented with explosive evidence linking high-ranking government officials and senior politicians to serious wrongdoing. This evidence has kept many of us glued to our TV screens, but in the process we are missing important revelations at the PIC commission.The most explosive evidence to date from the PIC inquiry has been about the relationship that businessman and media mogul Iqbal Survé enjoyed with former PIC chief executive Dan Matjila and the fund's suspended head of listed investments, Fidelis Madavo. It is this relationship that led to the PIC investing billions of rands in Survé 's business ventures including, among others, Ayo Technology, Independent News Media and Premier Fishing. Last year the fund almost invested billions in Sagarmatha Technologies, another of Survé's companies.Two months ago this newspaper reported on e-mails and board-meeting recordings that showed how Survé had been using the bank account of Ayo Technologies, which received R4.3bn from the PIC, as his own piggy bank.There was also evidence that showed millions in PIC investments being deposited in Survé 's bank accounts. At the time Survé denied this, claiming that his companies were a model of good governance and how black empowerment laws should be implemented. But the evidence before the commission in the past two weeks by three former senior executives at Ayo, ex-CEO Kevin Hardy, former chief investment officer Siphiwe Nodwele and former chief financial officer Nahied Gamieldien, disproves this.Their evidence shows that Survé , despite his repeated denials, was involved in the affairs of Ayo even though he was not a director. It confirmed that millions of rands of PIC money, through Premier Fishing, was used to fund black economic empowerment groups to acquire shares in Ayo. These included shares that went to trade unionist Dennis George, the general secretary of Fedusa.Gamieldien this week told the commission that the day after two companies linked to Survé were listed on the JSE, millions of rands from the PIC went to those companies. An amount of R35m went directly to Sekunjalo and a similar transfer was made to Three Laws Capital.It is this evidence that should have Survé worried. He now has a lot to answer for when he next appears before the commission. When he appeared before the commission three weeks ago, he tried to hoodwink the commission into believing his story that he was under attack by those who did not want to see a black businessman succeeding.

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