Former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) chief executive Dr Dan Matjila tore into the asset manager's former head of risk and compliance, Paul Magula yesterday, stopping short of naming Magula as the ringleader of a vicious smear campaign against him.
He said the alleged disinformation campaign was exacerbated by the emergence of whistle-blower James Nogu, who blew the lid on a wide variety of transactions that implicated certain senior PIC executives, late last year.
Resuming his testimony in Pretoria yesterday, Matjila made it clear that he believed those behind Nogu’s campaign were PIC insiders, with intricate knowledge of the confidential deals between the R2trillion asset manager and companies looking for funding such as Acsendis, MST and others.
The behaviour of Magula after VBS Mutual Bank extended a loan to former president Jacob Zuma was “a very arrogant one”, according to Matjila. Zuma had sought the loan to pay for his non-security upgrades at Nkandla as ordered by former public protector Thuli Madonsela.
Interestingly, Magula served on the board of VBS Mutual Bank on behalf of the PIC at the time of its demise towards the end of last year. “He (Magula) changed very quickly. He started to undermine my authority. I had to force him to organise a board strategy workshop that the PIC board had asked for, for months,” Matjila said.
Magula became derelict in his duties, Matjila said, by not ensuring that the risk statement in the PIC corporate plan met the appropriate standards. “He abandoned his duties, leaving crucial work to junior staff to handle. In paragraph 7 of Candace Abrahams’s witness statement to this commission, she confirms that she had several additional responsibilities placed on her by Mr Magula.
“In my opinion he took advantage of her excellent work ethic to overload her with work that he should have done.”
The former PIC boss claimed that Magula also served on the board of a company called Magae Makhaya, which was marred by gross maladministration and the misappropriation of funds.
“This was a situation similar to that of VBS. But instead of alerting the PIC board as its nominee director to this maladministration he kept quiet, with disastrous consequences for VBS.
“I had to come back from holiday for a meeting with the board of Magae Makhaya to get an explanation on the finances of the company, of which a comprehensive business plan was required to be provided by it, as well as a reconciliation of management fees paid to date. Neither the business plan nor the reconciliation were ever provided,” Matjila said.
Asked by investment expert Emmanuel Lediga, assisting retired Judge Lex Mpati at the commission, as to who he thought Nogu was, Matjila replied: “I wish I knew. I have a view who James Nogu could be. It’s almost like there is a person that information is fed to and writes these stories because they have a nice secure platform.
“Like De Observer 101 (Twitter account) who is now the James Nogu on social media. He is also doing the same thing.”
Matjila said he believed some witnesses had their information packaged by Nogu, as he had the technical expertise and could use the media to sustain the narrative.
“There are a number of individuals who came to the commission and supported the strategy of James Nogu, and knew how to disseminate information. I was hoping investigations would one day say, ‘Eureka, we found James Nogu’.
“If this is how James disorganises organisations, it is going to be problematic There are ways and structures to raise matters without damaging peoples’ reputations.”