UDM leader Bantu Holomisa. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The High Court in Pretoria will rule on Monday morning on an urgent court application to gag UDM leader Bantu Holomisa from alleging that a major BEE investment firm and prominent business figures may be involved in Public Investment Corporation (PIC) corruption.

Lebashe Investment Group, Harith General Partners and Fund Managers and former deputy finance minister Jabu Moleketi are among the applicants who took Holomisa to court after he wrote an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa implicating them in alleged PIC looting.

In his June letter to Ramaphosa, Holomisa stated: "Mr President, these companies and individuals have links — past and present, directly and indirectly — with the PIC. It makes for uncomfortable reading when one considers the possibility of a very complicated and opaque scheme that will put at risk the Government Employees Pension Fund."

Lebashe chief investment officer Warren Wheatley has categorically denied that there is any truth to Holomisa’s claims, and also that the PIC has provided any funding as part of the mooted empowerment deal between EOH and Lebashe.

‘No deal with EOH’

"No deal with EOH has been concluded and the PIC has not provided any funding. We have commenced consultations with international financiers and various local finance experts to raise funding." Wheatley does, however, acknowledge that the PIC has on two occasions provided funding "at arms length" to Lebashe, and says these transactions have resulted in "profits in excess of 30% over three years, to the value of some R200m for the beneficiaries of the Government Employees Pension Fund".

On Monday, the high court will rule on Lebashe and its co-applicants’ bid to temporarily gag Holomisa pending the outcome of their defamation case against him and the UDM.

That decision will come as the PIC, which is wholly owned by the government and manages assets totalling R1.928-trillion, finds itself at the centre of several allegations of wrongdoing and poor management.

On Friday, the PIC said its head of legal counsel, governance and compliance, Ernest Nesane, had resigned with immediate effect after testifying before the investigation into VBS Mutual Bank.

He had served as one of two directors delegated to the troubled bank by the PIC before it was placed under curatorship by the Reserve Bank in March.

Nesane’s departure follows the exit of Paul Magula, the PIC’s former executive head of risk and compliance and fellow VBS member. He was fired for poor performance in April.

Since then, details have come to light of payments of hundreds of thousands of rand to his accounts in 2016 and 2017 from Vele Investments, the biggest shareholder in VBS.

The allegations are contained in an affidavit by Anoosh Roolpal, the curator of VBS.

Magula has denied receiving money from VBS, and has said he had provided information to the investigators on Vele.

In his letter to Ramaphosa, Holomisa said "possible corruption" at the PIC could make alleged "state capture" graft "look like chump change".

He called on Ramaphosa to widen the terms of reference of Justice Raymond Zondo’s probe into state capture to investigate the PIC, saying it should be done urgently before "the paper trail is shredded in dark back rooms".

However, Wheatley said that none of the allegations had "any substance in truth", and he also questioned why Holomisa went public with his allegations, before they could be investigated by the Zondo inquiry.

"It is clearly implicit therein that the applicants intend to co-operate in the [state capture investigation]. Why then is there any need to make the ‘explosive’ and inherently defamatory allegations at this stage and in this form? The only feasible explanation is that it allows [Holomisa and the UDM] to make political capital out of the allegations at the expense of the applicants’ good names and dignity."

Holomisa and the UDM are also in court fighting for the suspension of PIC CEO Dan Matjila.