Johannesburg - The Financial Services Board (FSB), the body that oversees the country’s non-banking financial services industry including retirement funds and funeral insurance, has launched an investigation into seven trustees of Impala Workers Provident Fund, who allegedly tried to extort a bribe from a financial services provider.
The trustees, who are said to be members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), allegedly approached the Arian Solutions Group, a company offering funeral scheme cover for 500 workers at Impala Platinum (Implats) since January, and demanded R5 000 each a month in return for securing the funeral scheme.
The trustees were arrested in a trap set up by the Hawks last week and appeared in the Rustenburg Magistrates Court on Wednesday. They were released on R5 000 bail each.
FSB spokeswoman Tembisa Marele said the FSB was aware of the case involving trustees of a retirement fund at Implats operations. “As the case is now before the court, the FSB is not in a position to comment on it. However, the FSB is launching its own investigation in line with our mandate as defined in the Pensions Funds Act,” Marele said.
“It is important for trustees of retirement funds to always be cognisant of their fiduciary duties and no corruption should be tolerated. It is the responsibility of all retirement fund trustees to ensure that the hard-earned savings of South Africans are handled prudently,” she added.
Business Report can today reveal that the seven, whose names are known to the newspaper, approached a senior Arian employee and told him that members of the union branches were in favour of their services.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said one of the the trustees then told the Arian employee that they (the trustees) could protect and secure the services Arian provided, on condition that the company gave all the board members money.
Mulaudzi said the Arian employee agreed but reported it to mine security who then informed the police. He said four of the suspects were arrested in a blitz operation set up by the Hawks at a local restaurant and were found to be in possession of R35 000 in cash. “The arrest of the outstanding suspects will follow in due course,” Mulaudzi said.
Amcu became a popular union in the platinum belt after the Marikana massacre in August 2012 in which more than 40 people were killed in violent clashes. It toppled its arch-rival, the National Union of Mineworkers, and was recognised as the majority union at the mine in 2013.
A year later, Amcu led a five-month wage strike involving 70 000 employees in which Implats, Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin lost R24 billion in revenue and the employees R10bn in wages.
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said the union was investigating the allegations and was set to hold a meeting with its members at Implats on Friday.
“Should the seven members be found guilty of any illegal and corrupt behaviour, we will have no hesitation to act in defence of workers’ money and good name of the labour movement. Fairness requires that due process is respected and the seven members are given their rightful opportunity to clear their names,” Mathunjwa said.
Last week, Implats assured its workers that their money was safe and was being managed by large financial institutions, not the trustees.
“Implats pension funds operate under the strictest possible governance and control structures with independent third-party assurance through the FSB and annual financial audits – trustees receive comprehensive training and continued support to execute their fiduciary duties,” spokesman Johan Theron said.
“We have a zero tolerance to fraud and corruption with regular training and engagement programmes, and also avail independent whistleblower hotlines to report corrupt and unethical behaviour.”