Old Mutual files urgent court papers to stop Moyo resuming duties

Old Mutual said on Friday it has filed an urgent declaratory order application asking the court to block its newly reinstated CEO Peter Moyo from resuming his duties.

Company spokesperson Tabby Tsengiwe said there had been conflicting interpretations of the Tuesday court ruling, which found that Moyo should return to work with immediate effect. The company later announced it would appeal and said, as a result, Moyo's return to the office was therefore halted, as they planned to challenge the ruling.

Moyo's legal team, however, disputes this - with Moyo showing up for work on Wednesday, a day after court order. The respective legal teams were meant to meet to discuss the way forward but Old Mutual later called off the meeting.

"The aim of the application is to stabilise the market and to create certainty around whether Mr Moyo can return to work pending an appeal," the company said in a statement.

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Tsengiwe said Old Mutual's stood by its initial statement that its appeal of the High Court order summarily suspended the judgment, meaning Moyo was not allowed to return to work pending the outcome of the appeal process.

"What we have seen is that his lawyers are of a different view, and have insisted that he is allowed to come back to work. Therefore, for the sake of stability in the company, we have asking the court to clarify the matter."

Moyo was suspended in May and later fired as CEO of the JSE listed insurer in June. The company asserted this was due to a conflict of interest in his personal business matters.

"Mr Moyo will not be returning to office until the appeal process has been completed. It is very clear that there has been an irreparable breakdown in trust and confidence, and that any future working relationship is untenable," the company has said in a statement recently. 

Chief Operating Officer, Iain Williamson, has been appointed interim CEO.

Meanwhile Moyo is preparing to go ahead with Part B of his legal suit against Old Mutual, where he wants the court to declare the Old Mutual board "delinquent directors". This will prevent them from holding non-executive directorship positions for several years.   

"Old Mutual has maintained throughout that it believes it made the right decision to terminate Mr Moyo’s employment and that it was entitled in law to do so."

"Old Mutual re-iterates that its Board can and should hold the chief executive to a high standard particularly in circumstances where the contract of employment expressly requires a relationship of trust and mutual respect."

The company said is was confident that its application will be successful.

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