JOHANNESBURG - The plot over the abrupt exit last September of Andrew Darfoor, former chief of Alexander Forbes thickened yesterday with some of his former colleagues saying there was no improper conduct on his part, despite the company alleging as such.
Alexander Forbes in a statement last month said its had board initiated an investigation into allegations against Darfoor, with the results leading to his dismissal in September last year.
The Alexander Forbes board in September last year abruptly informed the market of Darfoor’s exit, citing “loss of confidence and trust”, and followed up with a statement around the initiation of an investigation leading to Darfoor’s dismissal.
Darfoor yesterday in responses to Business Report said the statement by the company was unfortunate and ill-advised.
“The matter is currently under legal process, initially with the CCMA. I can however confirm there was no improper conduct on my part nor any bona fide investigation. As such, and any such allegations implied or stated otherwise by the company in this vein are incomplete at best and misleading at worst," Darfoor said.
"This will be dealt with appropriately through the legal process, rather than through the media".
Alexander Forbes has said it would not provide additional information outside of the announcement it issued last month as the company and Darfoor are in an ongoing legal process.
Business Report previously reported atypical meetings held before Darfoor’s ousting and subsequent executive exodus, with Darfoor and chief financial officer Naidene Ford-Hoon being increasingly being frozen out of crucial meetings in the lead up to their departures.
A former colleague of Darfoor who wanted to speak anonymously said he believed Darfoor was handed a raw deal. "In any reasonable analysis, African Rainbow Capital (ARC) wanted control of Alexander Forbes, end of story," the source said. "Any "missteps" that might have occurred under Darfoor’s watch were simply business decisions that didn't work out as expected as yet, and were then second guessed by the board after the fact."
Darfoor’s exit saw a rapid management exodus, with Ford-Hoon resigning just a week after his departure. This was followed by mass resignations of the previous group executive in a period of less than four months. Sources at the group said these resignations were all forced, with trumped-up allegations made against the individuals, with them being given the choice to resign or address the charges. These allegations have been denied by Alexander Forbes.
ARC has since increased its stake in the company, alongside forcing through strategy changes that it communicated to the company with the planned sale of the insurance business.
It has been widely reported that Johan van Zyl, the co-chief executive of Alexander Forbes second biggest shareholder, ARC had a difference of opinion on the Ambition 2022 strategy that the group was pursuing under Darfoor and had been vocal with the Alexander Forbes board on this.
In reporting its latest financial results, the company reported lower profits and higher expenses, with Asief Mohamed, chief investment officer at Aeon Investment Management stating “it remains to be seen if the ARC investment case for Alexander Forbes will be realised”