Politics / 13 October 2019, 1:00pm / SIZWE DLAMINI and AYANDA MDLULI
Cape Town - The Public Servants' Association (PSA) has slammed the raid by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) on businessman Dr Iqbal Survé
, saying it proved that the state regulatory body was being used to settle personal scores.
The PSA, one of the biggest state employee unions in the country, said the search and seizure operation on the premises of Survé’s companies - Sekunjalo Investment Holdings and African Equity Empowerment Investment - in Cape Town this week highlighted the FSCA’s inconsistencies in carrying out its mandate.
On Friday, spokesperson Ivan Fredericks said it regarded the raid on Survé “as a demonstration of sick hypocrisy by this institution and further fuels the perception that it is used for personal vendetta in a political scuffle, while large corrupt corporates are left without any interrogation or raids by the FSCA”.
“The PSA noticed the same trend at the PIC Commission where Steinhoff (was) not even featured, despite glaring evidence of unprecedented accounting fraud. In addition, many JSE-listed companies and implicated accounting firms are for some reason overlooked for their criminality in fraudulent activities.
“The union has no knowledge of any raids by the FSCA on any other company in South Africa implicated in wrongdoing, including Steinhoff and EOH.”
This came as Survé accused Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan of trying to influence the Mpati Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of Impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation to make adverse findings against his companies.
Describing Gordhan as a “bully under the guise of fighting state capture”, Survé said the minister in March this year threatened consequences if Independent Media journalists did not stop reporting on the SA Revenue Service’s rogue unit and giving exposure to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. He said Gordhan made the call after receiving questions from journalists about one of the stories they worked on.
“Instead, he accused them of working for the Gupta family and demanded the journalists be called to order failing which we would feel the consequences.
“On the second occasion, Mr Gordhan felt that Independent Media was giving too much exposure to factions in the ANC and wanted to have a uniformed narrative, which was really his version, to be the main news item,” Survé said.
“He had mentioned that the other media houses are toeing the line and I should get my editors in line. He has openly boasted that he controls eNCA, Daily Maverick and various journalists at the Sunday Times. On various separate occasions, Mr Gordhan had mentioned to people that if Independent Media stops reporting on the rogue unit and on the public protector he would intervene to stop the attacks on my group and myself.”
Survé, who also owns Independent Media, accused Gordhan of using state institutions such as FSCA, SA Revenue Service (Sars) and Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC) to fight political and business rivals.
“Implicit in Mr Gordhan’s statement is that he is either knowledgeable about the Mpati Commission or has a role in influencing its outcomes. It is regrettable in both instances and supports the widely held view that Mr Gordhan uses his influence in regulatory institutions as an instrument against his detractors or those with whom he disagrees.
“When exposed for his underhand and clandestine dealings, Mr Gordhan refers to a fight back campaign. This fight back campaign is a figment of his imagination. I call on President Ramaphosa not to allow Minister Gordhan to abuse his powerful position in our economy against those who differ with him.”
Survé was responding to a statement released by Gordhan on Thursday in which he accused him of trying to deflect attention from the Mpati Commission. “What the South African public knows is that Mr Survé and his business entities have been the subject of the Mpati commission of inquiry. The attempt at deflecting attention from this, by making false and defamatory allegations against Min. Gordhan and others, will not assist him and others in being held accountable for possible transgressions of the law,” Gordhan said in a statement, released through his lawyer Tebogo Malatji.
About 20 FSCA members pounced on the two companies’ premises and downloaded information from the laptops and computer hard drives of targeted staff members, including Survé’s personal assistant Maude Nyandoro.
Survé subsequently instructed his lawyers to sue the FSCA.
This came as a whistle-blower, whose name is known to Independent Media, said in a letter to Sekunjalo Group that Gordhan had met Mpati Commissioners Gill Marcus and Emmanuel Lediga, and Eskom chairperson Jabu Mabuza at a restaurant in Pretoria where a decision was taken “to destroy you and your businesses”.
“The plan to (destroy) your credibility was discussed a few days before you testified at the commission. A meeting was held at the Fuma restaurant - Pretoria. In attendance were Gill Marcus, Pravin Gordhan (an aide of his left after a short while), assistant commissioner Emmanuel Lediga and Jabu Mabuza. At the meeting they discussed about the line and type of questions to be asked. A document was handed to Gill Marcus,” read part of the letter, dated June 12, 2019.
Gordhan’s lawyer, Malatji, said: “Our client categorically denies the allegations contained in your query regarding a meeting allegedly held at Fuma (sic) restaurant in Pretoria. No such meeting took place.
“Sekunjalo Investment Holdings and Mr Iqbal Survé must deal with their issues with respect to an investigation by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority into their affairs, and whatever evidence was presented to, or is being investigated by Judge Lex Mpati and the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation, that may implicate them in acts of impropriety.
“They should refrain from drawing our client into matters that do not involve him. Our client rejects the allegations contained in your enquiry as malicious, derisive and false. Our client emphatically denies that he was part of any conspiracy or plans ‘to destroy Dr Iqbal Survé and his businesses’, as you allege.”
Spokesperson for Eskom chairperson Mabuza, Dikatso Mothae, said: “Mabuza has not been in any one meeting with all the above persons in attendance to discuss any matter. He has no knowledge or has not been party to any conversations involving the Mpati commission of inquiry.”