The Commission of Inquiry probing allegations of impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) on Wednesday wrapped up its first round of public hearings with evidence from Victor Seanie, which painted a picture of an organisation in crisis, including how the AYO transaction was conducted.
Seanie was last week suspended from the PIC, following a forensic probe into the controversial R4.3bn investment in AYO Technology Solutions in December 2017. The deal into the company linked to Dr Iqbal Survé, was concluded under the watch of former CEO Dan Matjila.
Some key elements from Seanie's explosive testimony:
Professional advice ignored: In my experience, sound investment recommendations by investment professionals are often ignored at the PIC. However, I must hasten to add that there is a lot of good people at the PIC.
Culture of intimidation: I learnt that the PIC's work culture is also one of intimidation, (you don't question, you comply), ostracism, fear, coercion and undermining the independent, researched views of investment professionals.
No trusted whistle-blower hotline: The PIC has no trusted independent whistle-blower hotline that I am aware of. This adds to the anxiety that many of us have.
AYO process unusual: The PIC has the power to dictate time frames to companies seeking funding from it. The AYO process was unusual in that it seemed to me AYO was dictating time frames to the PIC. I found this strange and untoward.
Good friend Dan: During a meeting on April 4, 2018 between the PIC Listed Equities team and Sagarmatha management at the PIC offices, Survé said: "I consider Dr Dan a good friend".
"I believe this relationship was the genesis and primary drive of the PIC’s investment in AYO," said Seanie.
Unfair suspension: This was very unexpected, as I am a very small player in the bigger scheme of things at the PIC and in respect of the AYO transaction.
Scapegoated: In my view, I was scapegoated and suspended for expressing independent views that are different from those of some of PIC executives.
The inquiry, which was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, will resume in February, with more PIC executives expected to give evidence.