AYO to approach courts over PIC investigation report

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Sekunjalo Group, which owns AYO Technology Solutions, is planning a judicial review of the damning Mpati Commission of Inquiry report.

The report alleged impropriety on the part of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) when some of the companies under the group, including AYO, received funding.

Company executives led by Sekunjalo Investment Holdings chairperson Dr Iqbal Survé appeared before the Parliamentary standing committee on finance yesterday, to respond to the findings of the Mpati Commission of Inquiry, which was appointed by president Cyril Ramaphosa in October 2018, to look into allegations of impropriety at the PIC.

The PIC invested in a 29% stake in AYO when it listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in December 2017.

The commission, led by judge Lex Mpati, probed PIC’s R4.3 billion investment in AYO to establish whether it was above board and if the PIC followed all investment policies.

The Mpati Commission found that former PIC CEO Dan Matjila was allegedly dishonest about his involvement in the transaction and played a personal role in ensuring the transaction was approved by the fund manager’s deal team.

The report has been at the centre of some of the challenges AYO is facing, including being dropped as a customer by banks.

First National Bank (FNB) closed AYO’s bank accounts earlier this month, saying it elected to exercise its contractual right to terminate its banking relationship with AYO due to the associated reputational and business risks.

Absa gave the company 60 days to find a new bank.

Neither of the banks gave reasons for the closure of the accounts, saying a bank’s relationship with a customer is not governed by administrative law, but private law of contract, which means there is no legal obligation on them to provide AYO with reasons for closing bank accounts.

Efforts by AYO to interdict FNB failed at the South Gauteng High Court.

Besides the banks, AYO has since clashed with the JSE, Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission, PIC and Financial Sector Conduct Authority, accusing them of victimising and unfairly censuring the tech investment firm.

AYO chairperson Dr Wallace Mgoqi criticised the Mpati PIC investigation for alleging the AYO transaction demonstrated misconduct, promising to take it for judicial review.

“The commission made findings without supporting evidence. While the commission made no adverse findings against any entity within the broader Sekunjalo Group, there were statements in the report which implied improper conduct or wrongdoing with no supporting evidence in the body of the report.”

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