Financial regulator denies its head has conflict of interest in Iqbal Survé raid

The Financial Sector Conduct Authority has denied that its acting head, Abel Sithole, has a conflict of interest after the financial regulator on Wednesday raided the Cape Town offices of Iqbal Survé, the head of investment holding company Sekunjalo and the chair of Independent Media. 

Survé, in a statement on Wednesday afternoon, had accused Sithole of having a "huge conflict of interest," due to his dual roles of caretaker head of the FSCA and principal officer of the Government Employees Pension Fund.

The GEPF, which manages the pension and other benefits of most government workers, is by far the largest constituent of the state-run asset manager Public Investment Corporation. The PIC, meanwhile, is suing a company in the Sekunjalo stable - AYO Technology Solutions - to return the R4.3bn it investment in late 2017. The court case has not yet commenced. 

"I do solemnly believe this is also an underhanded attempt to obtain information relating to our legal case against the PIC and the GEPF," said Survé, in a statement that was also carried on the front pages of some of the daily newspapers in the Independent Media stable. 

In response to Survé's claim, the FSCA said there was no conflict of interest, adding that Sithole was not involved in the search and search operation on Wednesday.

The regulator said that Sithole was appointed in April  2018 to perform the functions of FSCA commissioner as a "transitional measure determined by the Minister of Finance" . "Therefore in this capacity he was mandated to appoint all the investigators of the FSCA, which he duly did on April 3, 2018 in order for the FSCA to fulfil its functions. These appointments did not relate to any particular investigation."

The regulator said that, beyond appointing investigators, Sithole "has had no role in any investigations undertaken by the authority.

"The initiation and supervision of all our investigations, like all other operational functions, is delegated to the relevant divisional executive. Mr. Sithole was not involved in the search and seizure operation conducted by the FSCA on Wednesday, and there is no conflict of interest in this matter."

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