FNB is set to face JSE-listed AYO Technology Solutions in court after the financial institution moved to close the black-owned tech firm’s banking facilities. Photo: Dylan Jacobs/African News Agency (ANA)
FNB is set to face JSE-listed AYO Technology Solutions in court after the financial institution moved to close the black-owned tech firm’s banking facilities. Photo: Dylan Jacobs/African News Agency (ANA)

Battle lines are drawn as FNB infringes on AYO's right to trade

By Sizwe Dlamini Time of article published Apr 26, 2021

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JSE-listed AYO Technologies has taken its battle for transactional facilities to the High Court after FNB infringed on the black-owned company’s right to trade by moving to close its bank accounts.

AYO does not have any lending facilities with FNB.

In its application for urgent interdictory relief, AYO raised the issue of FNB taking a unilateral decision to close the black-owned company’s bank accounts in the absence of good cause. AYO said it suspected that FNB’s decision was political and a new form of restricting black businesses from participating in the economy, in particular in the ICT sector.

AYO Group chief executive Howard Plaatjes argued in his court papers that the consequence of AYO not having transactional banking facilities in place could put significant limitations on the tech firm and would ultimately lead to it not being able to operate.

In its court papers, FNB argued that the investment by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) in AYO had been covered extensively by the media. “Such reporting has consistently included negative and critical allegations of a serious nature.”

Meanwhile, the PIC Commission of Inquiry made no adverse findings against AYO and the tech company’s stance is to assist state agencies with any investigations.

Sources within the company said this battle – to be heard in court on Thursday – was a battle for the right to trade more than anything else.

The people said the trend was that banks shut down black-owned companies' bank accounts based on media reports on untested allegations while companies that have admitted to corruption such as EOH, Tongaat Hulett and Steinhoff remain banked.

“The absence of a transactional banking facilities infringes on our Constitutional right,” said the people. | Investigations Unit – [email protected]

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