AYO controversy: JSE fines two ex-officials from Iqbal Survé-linked firms

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Iqbal Survé.
Iqbal Survé.
Lerato Maduna
  • The JSE has imposed fines and issued public censures on two former officials from companies linked to businessman Iqbal Survé.
  • The officials were Abdul Malick Salie, the former chief investment officer at African Equity Empowerment Investments and former CFO for AYO, as well as another AYO CFO, Naahied Gamieldien.
  • The JSE's findings are linked to AYO's controversial 2018 interim results, which saw the company being fined R6.5 million.
  • For more financial news, go to the News24 Business front page.

The JSE has imposed fines and issued public censures on two former officials from companies linked to businessman Iqbal Survé.

Abdul Malick Salie, the former chief investment officer at African Equity Empowerment Investments Limited (AEEI), was found to be one of the people responsible for transgressing listings requirements with regards to AYO Technology’s controversial 2018 interim results. These contained errors and were published shortly after the IT group listed on the stock exchange in December 2017.

Salie was briefly AYO’s CFO in 2019. The JSE fined him R250 000. AYO, on the other hand, was fined R6.5 million in 2020 for the publication of those results, which contained material errors.  

AYO is a technology company that falls within Survé's Sekunjalo stable of companies. It is a subsidiary of AEEI, which itself is a subsidiary of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings (SIH). SIH is 100% owned by a trust which has Survé as a trustee.

The JSE said on Tuesday that it had fined AYO’s other former CFO, Naahied Gamieldien, R250 000 for breaching listing requirements, specifically with regards to payments involving boutique asset management company, 3 Laws Capital, which was expected to manage funds for the tech firm. Sekunjalo was the majority shareholder of 3 Laws at the time.  

The bourse said it considered that both Salie and Gamieldien were transparent and fully cooperated with its investigations when it decided on the fine. The JSE’s investigation into other current and former AYO officials is ongoing.

This is not the first time the JSE has acted against officials involved in AYO’s controversial 2018 interim results. In February it banned two former AYO directors, Mbuso Khoza and Telang Ntsasa, from acting as directors of listed companies for five years. While the two did not prepare the interim results themselves, they failed in their oversight role as members of AYO's audit and risk committee.

READ | JSE bans two ex-directors of Iqbal Survé-linked IT group AYO for five years

According to the JSE, when Gamieldien was CFO in February 2018, she emailed a copy of the draft unaudited results to Salie and AYO’s then-nonexecutive director and AEEI CEO Khalid Abdulla, who also happens to be Surve’s brother-in-law. Abdulla told Salie, who wasn’t a director at AYO at the time, to adjust specific items in those results. The results that AYO management approved for publication included these adjustments.

With Gamieldien, the JSE found that she omitted to disclose a material investment of R400 million paid to 3 Laws on 5 March 2018 as a "post-balance sheet event" in the unaudited 2018 interim results. She also contravened regulations by carrying out payments directly into 3 Laws bank account, which resulted in AYO breaching listing requirements. She also did not ensure that shareholders and the public were notified about the relevant information on the 3 Laws transactions.

'Malfeasance'

Both Salie and Gamieldien had previously testified at the Mpati Commission on Inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) about their time at AYO.

The PIC, which manages over R2 trillion in investments on behalf of public servants, subscribed to all AYO's shares at issue for R4.3 billion. The group's share price has since plunged by over 90% from more than R40 a share to about R3 a share currently.

Click here for details on Ayo's shares and other info.

According to news reports at the time, Salie testified how, at Survé's insistence, the valuation of AYO rose following a meeting in 2017 between Survé, Salie and Abdulla. Survé told the commission that the listing was led by the teams at AEEI and AYO.

Gamieldien told the inquiry, according to reports, that Abdulla called her to a meeting at his home to discuss the technology company’s February 2018 interim results, and asked her to "adjust" margins to increase its profit.

The Mpati report found that members within the boards of the Sekunjalo Group of companies were "not independent". 

The report ruled that the R4.3 billion transaction between the PIC and AYO demonstrated the "malfeasance of the Sekunjalo Group [and] the impropriety of the process and practice of the PIC".

It recommended that the PIC conduct a forensic review of all transactions entered into with the Sekunjalo Group and take all "necessary steps" to recover the money it is owed. 

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