Cape Town - The curtain-raiser to the much-anticipated Public Investment Corporation (PIC) vs JSE-listed AYO Technology Solutions (AYO) court case last week contained explosive testimony from the PIC’s first witness, Victor Seanie, who was dismissed for dishonesty over the AYO deal in 2019.
In his testimony, Seanie alluded to the PIC’s lawyers as “corrupt” and doing the bidding of “dictator” Dr Dan Matjila, the PIC’s then CEO and chief investment officer.
The PIC is taking AYO to court to reclaim its investment of R4.3 billion in what can be described as a case of “buyer’s remorse” and “regret”. This has raised the question whether or not an investor can change its mind simply because it no longer wants to be in bed with its chosen companion, and ask for its money back.
If the PIC was hoping for its first witness to be a strong ally, it may have miscalculated, given a series of what appeared to be contradictions, inaccuracies by Seanie apparently lacking in evidence.
Seanie claimed that the entire PIC board and executive were “corrupt and had all been dictated to by Matjila to do his bidding”, a claim Matjila has since publicly refuted
This statement extended to the claim that the asset manager’s senior counsel advocate Anton Myburgh, SC, briefed by Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENSAfrica), had chaired Seanie’s disciplinary hearing, resulting in his dismissal. Seanie had claimed the process led by Myburgh was “a kangaroo court.
“He was just paid to give his opinion,” Seanie said of Myburgh.
Under cross-examination AYO’s senior counsel advocate Nazeer Cassim challenged Seanie’s testimony, saying: “But he finds that your conduct as a senior employee was dishonest?”
In response Seanie said: “Well, that is because he was hired by the PIC’s lawyers.”
Cassim: “You said the chairperson was paid to get rid of you.”
Seanie: “I believe so.”
Cassim: “So, he is part of a conspiracy to get rid of you?”
Seanie: “I believe so.”
Cassim: “And the attorneys?”
Seanie also claimed the AYO deal was “corrupt”.
He appeared to have determined this on the basis that Matjila had signed off on the deal prior to the two PMC meetings, a process which Seanie later said in his testimony was well within Matjila’s rights. Matjila had the authority to sign for deals up to R10 billion; deals worth more than that would need to be signed off by the investment committee.
What appears to be becoming clear, however, is that the AYO transaction that became a core focus of the Mpati Commission of Inquiry into impropriety at the PIC relates to the incompetence of the PIC executives and not to AYO itself
The case continues, with Bertrandt Delport, BTSA’s former legal counsel and now its MD on the stand.