Matshepo More. Picture: WARREN THOMPSON
Matshepo More. Picture: WARREN THOMPSON

The Public Investment Corporation’s (PIC’s) suspended CFO on Tuesday conceded she did not follow the necessary protocols in Iqbal Survé’s Ayo Technology Solutions deal in December 2017, saying it was  “not established practice” in the organisation.

“The delegation of authority (DOA) was not applied at the Public Investment Corporation,” said Matshepo More, who was responding to questions from the commission’s evidence leader, Advocate Jannie Lubbe, as to why the PIC’s delegation of authority process had been ignored.

She painted a worrying picture of a CEO who pushed decisions down his subordinates’ throats.

The DOA is a board-sanctioned requirement that requires the CEO and CFO to jointly authorise investments of the size made in Ayo (R4.3bn).

This did not sit well with the commissioners. Gill Marcus asked More repeatedly why she, as one of two executive directors at the PIC (former PIC CEO Dan Matjila was the other), did not request that the board change the process to reflect the practice.

The process was only changed in April 2019.  

The outcome of this attitude was that More could sign a disbursement memo — effectively authorising payment for the R4.3bn investment without having to approve the investment herself. 

This took place a day before the corporation’s portfolio management committee — the highest investment decision-making forum outside of the board — met to consider, and ultimately approve, the investment.

Unbeknown to her, Matjila had already signed a letter of irrevocable undertaking to invest in Ayo on December 14 2017, six days before the portfolio management committee met. 

More steadfastly maintained that Matjila had not made her aware of the letter and could not recall when she first heard the PIC was considering making an investment in the company.

Lubbe asked whether Matjila made More aware that he had already signed an irrevocable undertaking before the portfolio management committee met.

“No. I had a professional relationship with him. But he does not tell me everything, because he had the delegation of authority,” she said.

He also asked whether it was not moral and ethical for Matjila to inform her of a transaction in excess of R4bn. More said: “It’s difficult to discuss someone’s morality. He had the authority [via the DOA] but he was not obligated to tell me.”

Neither was More made aware of the letter during the portfolio management committee meeting. She claims she only heard about the irrevocable undertaking in September 2018, nine months after the letter was signed by Matjila and despite More being included in an e-mail in which a copy of the letter was attached.

More also made representations regarding the “disbursement memo” for the Ayo investment that she was hastily asked to sign on December 19 2017, a day before the portfolio management committee met.

By the time the memo landed on More’s desk, it had already been signed by six other executives at the PIC, including Matjila.

“I signed the disbursement memo for the sole purpose of confirming the requisite funds are available,” said More. She said she crossed out the words “approval/not approval” above her signature to indicate she was not consenting to the investment.

While More has not been formally charged by the PIC, Business Day has seen a document prepared on behalf of the investment manager that recommends sanctions of varying degrees for 11 employees in relation to the Ayo transaction. In More’s case, signing the disbursement memo before the investment was approved is one of the charges she is likely to face.

thompsonw@businesslive.co.za