The Cape Town office of Dr Iqbal Survé, chairperson of Independent Media and head of investment firm Sekunjalo, was raided by the financial regulator the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) on Wednesday morning.
News of the raid was first published on the Business Report website, the financial news arm of Independent Media. Included in the article is a 2-minute video where Survé tells officials that in his view Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan "is behind this as well as other people".
Business Report reported that the raid at the Waterfront offices was done without prior notice and that the officials tried to confiscate laptops and computer hard drives. On the video Survé says he sees the raid as an abuse of the regulatory authorities.
"You are not going to take my laptop as there is privileged information on there," Survé says in the video. He alleges the raid is "to get information we have on Pravin Gordhan and the president (Cyril Ramaphosa) and which my reporters are about to publish this weekend".
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In a statement on Wednesday, the FSCA confirmed it conducted a search and seizure operation at Sekunjalo's office as part of a market manipulation probe. The order for the search was granted by Justice PAL Gamble of the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday. It said it allowed the FSCA to conduct the search under the supervision of an independent attorney.
The regulator noted that is has the power to investigate, and, when appropriate "take enforcement action in cases of market abuse on the financial markets".
The FSCA did not specify which company it is investigating. In May it announced that it had launched an investigation into transactions in AYO Technology – which is linked to Survé – for market manipulation.
Government's investment arm, the Public Investment Corporation, 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 judicial commission of inquiry into the PIC 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. While the inquiry also heard that much of the PIC's investment has been lent out to asset managers to invest, Survé said this was a normal business practice.
The IT firm's former chief investment officer, Siphiwe Nodwele, told the commission that he valued the AYO at between R700m and R1bn - far below the R14.8bn determined by the state-run asset manager in late 2017.
Survé has consistently denied any wrongdoing related to AYO. Testifying before the commission in early April, he blamed bad press from rival media houses for scuppering the listing of another IT company on the JSE, Sagarmatha Technologies. He at the time compared the company to Uber, saying if it had listed on the JSE and then on the NYSE he had "no doubt" it would have reached a market capitalisation of $10bn.