'The decision simply went against him': Reserve Bank denies blocking Pityana as Absa chair

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Pityana resigned from AngloGold Ashanti at the end of last year, when the sexual harassment allegations surfaced.
Pityana resigned from AngloGold Ashanti at the end of last year, when the sexual harassment allegations surfaced.
Picture: City Press
  • The SA Reserve Bank has denied that it acted inappropriately, preventing Sipho Pityana from becoming chair of the board of Absa.
  • The affidavit said no rights of Pityana's were breached under section 60 of the Banks Act.
  • Pityana said he and his legal advisors were still considering the affidavit.

The South African Reserve Bank's (SARB) Prudential Authority (PA) has filed a responding affidavit at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, after businessperson Sipho Pityana alleged it blocked his appointment as chairperson at Absa.

The affidavit was filed at the court on Tuesday.

Among other things, the PA denies blocking Pityana's appointment as chair of the Absa board – stressing that it was not formally notified of his nomination.

The authority also denies overstepping its powers.

Pityana resigned from AngloGold Ashanti in December 2020, without giving reasons at the time. But after taking the PA to court in October, he revealed that he had left the miner amid allegations of sexual harassment, which he denied.

Former Absa boss Maria Ramos replaced him as chairperson with immediate effect.

Pityana was also recently axed as Absa's lead independent director and chair of its remuneration committee, though he remained a member of its board.  

No formal notice

In its affidavit, the PA cited legislation, including the Banks Act, noting the procedure for director appointments to a commercial bank where it relates to advising the regulator.

PA CEO Kuben Naidoo said while Pityana contended that the authority objected to his nomination as chair of the board of Absa, no written notice of his nomination was ever submitted by the bank to the PA.

"He says that the authority denied him the right to be heard because it followed an informal process in objecting to his nomination to be the chairperson of the Absa board, or in thwarting his nomination," the affidavit stated.

"Instead, the facts set up by him in his founding affidavit make it clear that despite his representations to the Absa board, the board decided not to nominate him as chairperson and, instead, decided to nominate an external candidate, Sello Moloko," the affidavit added.

The affidavit further said no rights of Pityana's under section 60 of the Banks Act were breached and that the PA did not act beyond the scope of its powers.

"It was open to Absa to undertake its own internal processes with Mr Pityana and then to submit such a written nomination if that was the ultimate decision of its board. This clearly happened and Mr Pityana was heard by the Absa board. The decision simply went against him," the affidavit read.

Approached for comment by Fin24 on Tuesday afternoon, Pityana said he received the response of the PA and that he and his legal team were studying and considering the responding affidavit.

"I have seen the responding affidavit to mine, which I found very helpful in clarifying and addressing a great deal of issues I had in the legal position. We may have differences with regards to various aspects of it and I trust the court process and would want to await the outcome of those," said Pityana.

Pityana said the matter of Absa's processes must be in line with the law.

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