Assistant commissioner Gill Marcus, left, chairperson Justice Lex Mpati and assistant commissioner Emmanuel Lediga during the PIC Commission of Inquiry being held at Sammy Marks Square, Pretoria. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi African News Agency (ANA)

PRETORIA – The executive head of human resources at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Chris Pholwane, strongly dismissed claims that he was implicated in wrongdoing at the embattled asset manager.

Pholwane was making his submission to the Commission of Inquiry into alleged improprieties at the PIC led by retired Judge Lex Mpati, assisted by Gill Marcus and Emmanuel Lediga.

“I deny that I was implicated in any wrongdoing in the so-called James Nogu, Leiho Leiho and/or PIC emails. If at all there was only a single reference to alleged questionable transactions between myself and the chief financial officer (CFO),” he said.

He challenged the commission to test if there were any allegations of wrongdoing made against him in the emails if necessary.

Pholwane told the commission that he was requested to make a submission to the commission, because a number of employees from the PIC had already appeared before the commission, claiming that there was a culture of victimisation and intimidation against employees who challenged and/or exposed wrongdoing in the company.

“I confine my statement to allegations and matters that directly/indirectly relate to or have an impact on me and am not answering any allegations that broadly relate to the PIC as an organisation, the chief executive and the CFO,” he said

He said: “In dealing with these allegations, I wish to make general remarks relating thereto and thereafter dealing with specific allegations as set out in various statements of the various employees that appeared before the commission.”

He said based on the statements of the various employees the alleged victimisation and intimidation took a form of, among others, subjecting such employees to disciplinary hearings.

“In this regard, there are broad allegations and insinuations to the effect that the human resources department was utilised by the office of the chief executive to cultivate and perpetuate the culture of victimisation and intimidation.”

Also at the commission, yesterday, Andre Visser, the general manager of the JSE, was cross-examined by evidence leader Advocate Jannie Lubbe. 

Lubbe told the commission that the PIC had confirmed that its investment committee and the board did not authorise the investment of $270 million (R3.88 billion) into Erin Energy.

Visser confirmed that a letter signed by former chief executive Dr Dan Matjila and the PIC’s head of fixed income, confirmed the investment. 

Visser took the stand and testified that the JSE was proposing changes to its listing requirements since the Erin Energy, AYO Technology and Sagarmatha deals, involving the PIC, have come under the spotlight.

Last week, Ndivhuwo Tshikhudo, an investment analyst at the PIC, who has an MBA from Texas, a Bsc Mech Engineering and is a chartered financial analyst, revealed to the commission that he was tasked with conducting an analysis of the investment and came up with recommendations for the PIC.

According to his testimony, he said the PIC proceeded with the investment, even though it was highly recommended that the asset manager for the PIC not go ahead with the provision of the guarantee and to exit the Erin Energy equity investment.