Cape Town - AEEI and its CEO, Khalid Abdulla, on Tuesday laid a charge of attempted extortion against Magda Wierzycka, CEO of Sygnia Limited, an asset management company listed on the JSE.
The charge of attempted extortion was lodged following Wierzycka’s alleged approach to Abdulla to buy back the shares that Abdulla, AEEI, its majority shareholder Sekunjalo Investment Holdings have in Sygnia at a substantially lower price. Failing this, she threatened to continue to write negative stories about Sekunjalo, AEEI and its associated company, AYO Technology Solutions.
Collectively, the three entities own approximately 3,5 million shares. At the time of the alleged attempted extortion, the undue benefit to Wierzycka would have amounted to millions of rands.
“I am shocked by this blatant attempt at extortion. By law I am obliged to report this matter to the police and take the necessary legal action," said Abdulla.
Sekunjalo’s chairman Dr Iqbal Survé said it was time to expose the underhanded dealings of individuals who feign a different view in public but behind the scenes attempt to extort companies for their undue benefit.
“Such individuals must answer to the law. We will have no hesitation in pursuing this to its fullest," said Dr Survé.
According to Abdulla, Wierzycka has over a period of time made several attempts to contact him to buy back the shares that AEEI has in Sygnia at a reduced share price. In her most recent approach, Wierzycka indicated that she would halt all negative publicity about the Sekunjalo Group, AEEI and some of the investee companies if she is allowed to buy back the Sygnia shares at a reduced rate.
“Wierzycka’s attempts at extortion were forwarded to our attorneys and senior counsel. They advised us that, as a responsible corporate citizen and in terms of South African law, we are obliged to report such actions to the police. We have, therefore, handed evidence to the police which includes text messages and emails. We hope that the police will pursue this matter to the fullest extent of the law. They can count on our assistance," said Abdulla.
IOL has seen the affidavit, which details the text messages and emails.
Wierzycka, who also writes a column for Tiso Blackstar’s Business Day and its online platform BDLive, has on several occasions written negative articles about the Sekunjalo Group, including its investee companies and in particular AYO Technology Solutions, Sagarmatha and several of the group’s senior executives.IOL