Nhlanhla Nene looks afresh at corruption allegations against PIC’s Dan Matjila
Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene is looking afresh at corruption allegations made last year against Public Investment Corporation (PIC) CE Dan Matjila and has asked the board to provide him with the full details of the matter.
The allegations include that Matjila had channeled funds meant for corporate social investment to a girlfriend. The board investigated last year and found that the claims had no foundation.
But a police investigation into Matjila has reignited the claims, causing Nene to write to the PIC chairman Deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele earlier this week requesting a full briefing and a documentary record of its deliberations. The letter, which Business Day has seen, has been confirmed by the treasury as coming from Nene.
In his letter Nene also requested the board to advise him on whether disciplinary steps, including precautionary suspension against Matjila and any other executives of the PIC are warranted and suggested that Matjila not be party to the discussions.
The origin of the police investigation dates back to October last year, when the claims first surfaced. At the time, the PIC board was deeply divided between supporters of Matjila and those of then chairman Sifiso Buthelezi. In the midst of the conflict a criminal complaint was made to the police against Matjila.
In the past few weeks the police investigation has led to Gungubele being subpoenaed to provide certain information including the minutes of board meetings and the emails of Matjila. The details of the subpoena were reported in the City Press last Sunday.
Nene’s letter expresses concern about "negative reports" in the media saying that the allegations needed to be responded to.
The list of demands includes that Gungubele submit all supporting documents, including "all internal audit and other internal reports as well as reports commissioned by the PIC, pertaining to these allegations."
Nene has also refers to the board’s request made in October 2017 for "an engagement" with his predecessor Malusi Gigaba on the Matjila matter. He says that he would like to meet with the board as soon as the responses and documents he has requested have been provided.
Gigaba had written to Buthelezi in 2017 requesting that a forensic audit is carried out at the PIC shortly after the allegations against Matjila first surfaced.
Matjila has strenuously denied the allegations at the time.
The PIC, which manages R2 trillion in government employee’s pension funds and other social funds, is the most influential investor in the economy, and is constantly lobbied for funding by politically connected individuals.
Over the past year, it has been increasingly under the spotlight with sporadic reports of questionable investment deals.
The minister gave the board until Monday to reply.
The PIC’s Head of Corporate Affairs Deon Botha has confirmed that Gungubele, along with other members of the board received the letter from Nene.
He has, however, said the board was still of the “view that the matter has been sufficiently dealt with”.
Botha told Business Day on Saturday that the allegations against Matjila were baseless and that he had been cleared of any wrongdoing, while issuing an assurance of the board’s cooperation with the minister’s request.
“The Board is cooperating with the Minister and all the reports and other documentation requested by the Minister are in the process of being submitted to the Minister by the Chairman,” added Botha..