- The JSE has disqualified two former directors of listed IT group AYO Technology Solutions for five years.
- The stock exchange says the ex-board members failed to conduct proper oversight of the group's 2018 interim results
- AYO Technology Solutions falls under businessman Iqbal Survé's Sekunjalo stable of companies.
The Johannesburg Stock Exchange has disqualified two former board members of IT group AYO Technology Solutions from acting as directors of listed companies for five years.
In a market update on Thursday morning, the JSE announced that Mbuso Khoza and Telang Ntsasa had been disqualified for failing to fulfil their responsibilities as directors and audit committee members of AYO with "the necessary due care and skill".
The decision means that Khoza and Ntsasa cannot act as directors of a listed company until 2027.
AYO is a technology company that falls within the businessman Iqbal Survé's Sekunjalo stable of companies. It is a subsidiary of African Equity Empowerment Investments, which itself is a subsidiary of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings (SIH).
SIH is 100% owned by a trust which has Survé as a trustee.
The disqualification is linked to AYO's 2018 interim results, which were published shortly after the IT group listed on the stock exchange in December 2017.
State-run asset manager the Public Investment Company (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 over R40 a share to R4 a share.
The JSE first censured AYO and fined it R6.5 million for the publication of a number of material errors in its 2018 interim results in August of 2020.
On Thursday, it said that while Khoza and Ntsasa did not prepare the interim results themselves, they failed in their oversight role as member's of the IT group's audit and risk committee.
According to the JSE, Khoza admitted to having "little to no knowledge of corporate governance issues" and "no knowledge" of the rules of financial reporting procedures of a JSE listed company.
Ntsasa, meanwhile, admitted to not having "adequate board and audit and risk committee experience" and "insufficient knowledge" of listings requirements.
The JSE said both former directors of the IT group, who resigned from AYO's board in August 2018, admitted their shortcomings and "fully co-operated with the JSE's investigation".
On Thursday AYO said that while it does not agree with the "severity of the JSE censure imposed on the two directors", it respects the critical role directors play.
"AYO had already acknowledged its shortcomings in 2018, and consequently its audit risk committee has strict and full oversight in accordance with the requisite regulations," it said. "AYO is grateful for Ms Khoza and Mr Ntsasa’s full co-operation with the JSE in this matter."
PIC inquiry report
The report of the Mpati Commission of Inquiry into the PIC, released in March 2020, 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.
The asset manager has instituted legal action against AYO in a bid to recoup its R4.3 billion investment, plus interest. AYO has denied wrongdoing and is fighting the court challenge, which has not yet started.
At a Parliamentary meeting in May last year, AYO executives accused the PIC, together with officials from National Treasury, of plotting to destroy it, an accusation the PIC denied.
*This article has been corrected to clarify that the two ex-directors resigned in 2018 and not 2020.