In a strongly worded statement, Judge Lex Mpati lashed out at the latest claims by Dr Iqbal Survé, chairperson of Independent Media and head of investment firm Sekunjalo, against public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.
In an article published on Independent-owned IOL on Sunday, Survé accused Gordhan of trying to influence the commission of inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation, and that he wanted the commission to make “adverse findings” against Survé’s companies.
In response, Mpati, who heads the PIC commission, said that the allegations “have no basis in fact”.
“The Commission views the article in a serious light and as part of an on-going attempt to discredit the work of the Commission, the integrity of the Commissioners and an endeavour to influence its findings.
“The Commission will not tolerate interference in its work from any quarter. Nor will it countenance attempts to influence or intimidate it, irrespective of who may attempt to do so," Mpati said.
"The Commission will continue with its work without fear or favour and reserves the right to take action, in accordance with the regulations, against any party who seeks to interfere in its work.”
Survé’s Cape Town office was raided by the financial regulator the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) on Wednesday morning. The raid is presumed to be related to an investigation into transactions in AYO Technology – which is linked to Survé – for market manipulation.
The PIC invested R4.3bn in AYO before its listing on the JSE in December 2017, while AYO's assets were reportedly worth far less than that. The corporation launched a court bid earlier in the year to reclaim its investment.
In April, the Mpati commission heard that millions of rands from the PIC investment into AYO went to two companies linked to Survé the day after it was listed on the JSE.
Survé has consistently denied any wrongdoing related to AYO, and blamed this week’s raid on Gordhan. Survé alleges that he has "sufficient evidence" to show Gordhan was involved in the raid, but that this evidence will be presented at the "appropriate time".
The minister's lawyer hit back at the accusations on Thursday.
“What the South African public knows is that Mr Survé and his business entities have been the subject of the Mpati Commission of Inquiry. The attempt at deflecting attention from this, by making false and defamatory allegations against Minister Gordhan and others, will not assist him and others in being held accountable for possible transgressions of the law."
In Sunday’s article, Survé claimed that Gordhan’s statement shows that "he is either knowledgeable about the Mpati Commission or has a role in influencing its outcomes".
Compiled by Helena Wasserman