Arbitration battle kicks off between Stellenbosch University, SA Rugby boss

2019-11-25 11:08
Jurie Roux.

Jurie Roux. (Gallo Images)

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The multimillion-rand battle between Stellenbosch University and SA Rugby (SARU) CEO Jurie Roux is expected to play out in an arbitration hearing that kicks off this week.

University spokesperson Martin Viljoen confirmed the hearing was going ahead on Monday. The hearing is closed and the venue has not been revealed.

The university claims Roux misappropriated R37m during his tenure in the institution's finance department and was looking to recoup it through a civil claim it lodged in the Western Cape High Court. Roux has challenged the claim, previously calling it "strange".

The matter was initially set down to be heard in the High Court in May, but was postponed without a resumption date.

Instead, the arbitration hearing was scheduled.

Roux served as a senior director in the university's finance department before he was appointed SARU CEO in 2013.

He worked for the university from 1994 to 2012. Roux served on the management of the university's rugby club for 10 years.

The university's chief operating officer Stan du Plessis said in May that the main advantage in opting for arbitration was "the speedier final resolution of the dispute between the parties".

Going this route would also cost less. He denied that part of the university's motivation for referring the matter for arbitration was to keep it out of the public eye.

Matters involving public money should not be aired behind closed doors, said Du Plessis.

"It is for reasons relating to transparency that the university proposed that the existence of the arbitration and the final arbitration award will not be confidential, in contrast with most cases referred to arbitration. This proposal is included in the arbitration agreement."

Auditing firm KPMG, in a report attached to a notice by the university lodged at the high court in October 2017, found Roux "misrepresented the university's funds (including by, without evidence of authorisation, reallocating reserves of the university for expenditure); entered into unauthorised agreements on behalf of the university; did not act in the best interests of the university; and potentially benefited personally from university funds".

According to the report, Roux could have benefited from university funds through the payment of irregular bonuses, News24 previously reported.

Roux is also accused of having used a software mechanism that did not leave an audit trail and is alleged to have concealed the movement of funds between accounts to which he had access, ostensibly resulting in the university council's reserves being decreased by R35.3m from 2002 to 2010.

KPMG also made adverse findings against a friend and colleague of Roux's, Chris de Beer, who also worked in the university's finance department and the rugby club.

He was found to have channelled funds from Roux to irregularly funded bursaries and unused or old student fee accounts. De Beer has been dismissed by the university.

Roux, in a replying affidavit filed at the High Court, said he found his former employer's civil claim against him "strange" for a number of reasons.

Roux claims the money was used for legitimate university expenses. He said the only money he took was his salary and benefits.

According to his affidavit, the university did not suffer any damages as a result of his conduct. He said he strengthened the university's financial situation and its financial management system.

Roux also questioned the university's claim that he had breached his employment contract, saying it was unable to produce the laws, statues, regulations, policies and principles that applied during his employment.

- Previous reporting by Tammy Petersen and Adriaan Basson

Read more on:    stellenbosch university  |  stellenbosch  |  courts
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