Old Mutual must have regarded its appointment of Trevor Manuel as chair as a coup. He was one of the longest-serving finance ministers in the world, is highly regarded in business circles, has an international profile and is a heavyweight who moves among the political and business elite. But did his illustrious CV result in fellow board members developing a blind spot when it came to alleged conflicts of interest Manuel may have had?

Peter Moyo, the former CEO of Old Mutual who is fighting his dismissal, said in court papers that he had raised the issue of a conflict with Manuel being chair of Old Mutual Group SA, a director of Old Mutual Plc and chair of Rothschild, with the latter earning fees for work done on the restructuring of Old Mutual. Moyo said he also raised questions about the company paying Manuel's legal fees in a matter between Manuel and the Gupta family, which was unrelated to Old Mutual. But raising these concerns resulted in his suspension and then dismissal...

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