Gungubele maintains his innocence in face of new PIC allegations

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Mondli Gungubele, deputy finance minister. Picture: Deon Raath
Mondli Gungubele, deputy finance minister. Picture: Deon Raath

Deputy Minister of Finance Mondli Gungubele says he’s done nothing wrong and “welcomed the opportunity to clear his name once and for all”.

Gungubele spoke out following revelations that the state-owned pension fund the Public Investment Corporation – of which Gungubele is chairperson of the board – said on Wednesday a whistleblower had made new corruption allegations against him, another board member and the acting chief executive.

The PIC, which has nearly R2 trillion of civil servants’ pension funds under its custody and is Africa’s largest pension fund, said it would immediately conduct an forensic investigation into the allegations.

The unknown whistleblower wrote in a new email that board member Sibusisiwe Zulu was romantically involved with someone who had benefited from BEE transactions with the PIC. The email accused Zulu of working with acting chief executive Matshepo More and the deputy finance minister to capture the PIC.

The board held a special board meeting last night after it received an email from the anonymous whistleblower known as “James Noko” regarding the allegations of impropriety.

“I have noted the decision by my fellow board members to investigate the allegations against me contained in an email circulated this week by a ‘whistleblower’,” said Gungubele.

“I welcome the opportunity to clear this matter once and for all. However, I am confident that I have done nothing wrong.”

The investment corporation has been in the spotlight as a judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of impropriety at the PIC began hearing testimony in Pretoria last week.

The inquiry is focusing on the dodgy acquisition of Ayo Technology Solutions, an investment worth R4.3 billion.

City Press first revealed irregularities at the PIC in March last year and reported that the PIC waived its normal due-diligence processes to invest the R4.3 billion in media mogul Iqbal Survé’s latest venture.

READ: PIC’s R4.3bn ‘risky’ investment

The decision, according to an explosive set of documents, was based on “very optimistic” forecasts and taken without access to proper financial information.

Insiders believed that the state-owned asset manager had, in effect, given Survé’s Sekunjalo group the money it needed to repay an earlier PIC loan.

The R4.3 billion investment into Ayo Technology Solutions, which listed on the JSE on December 21, was approved on December 20 at a special meeting of the PIC’s portfolio management committee for listed investments.

City Press reported earlier this week that when an alarm was raised by its internal audit unit about the shares the corporation had acquired, the board largely ignored it for seven months.

READ: PIC ignored alarm Ayo raised

Last week Tuesday, the board announced that it had suspended one of its executives and a staff member following the completion of the preliminary probe report into the Ayo Technology Solution transaction.

The report “clearly reflects a blatant flouting of governance and approval processes of the PIC” and PIC employees had been implicated in these irregularities, a statement from the PIC said last week. – Additional reporting by Reuters

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