Cape Town - South African Airways (SAA) representatives have agreed to refer a case against whistleblower Cynthia Stimpel to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), according to a statement issued by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) on Tuesday.
In July SAA suspended treasurer Stimpel for misconduct as "she had acted in contravention of SAA’s code of conduct". The airline denied its decision to suspend her had to do with media reports suggesting she had allegedly objected to SAA’s decision to award a tender to “boutique financier” BnP Capital.
On 19 July, News24 exclusively revealed that SAA's controversial appointment of BnP Capital was not only expensive, but also put on hold an approved banking tender to Nedbank. The report revealed that SAA's board approved the awarding of banking services to Nedbank on May 27, for five years, at an estimated cost of R278m.
But the awarding of this contract would be on condition that the "Nedbank contract [be] deferred subject to [the] debt consolidation process finalisation". BnP Capital was appointed to advise SAA on how to restructure its R15bn debt.
This would be done for a fee of R256m - even though Stimpel said it could be done at a fraction of the cost, according to the report. BnP Capital won the contract in March ahead of several well-established companies including Nedbank, Regiments and Deloitte & Touche.
At the time Outa claimed that SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni was among board members who voted to hire BnP without a tender.
SAA subsequently decided to terminate the services of BnP Capital as transaction adviser and its appointment to source funds on behalf of the airline.
Outa said on Tuesday representatives of SAA "capitulated at the last minute in the Labour Court" and agreed to refer the case to the CCMA.
"SAA wanted Stimpel to give an undertaking that she would not launch any further court proceedings relating to one of the charges and to pay the costs of the court application. Neither of these requests had been acceded to and the matter will now be heard by the CCMA in the near future," said Outa.
Outa added that it has established a crowd-funded whistleblower protection programme to defend whistleblowers against any victimisation tactics that may be implemented by employers, including the state.
SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali told Fin24 on Tuesday evening that the best thing to do would be to exercise restraint and allow the process to run its course until the matter is finalised.
"What Outa seems to celebrate speaks nothing to the merit aspects of the matter between the parties," said Tlali.
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