PIC inquiry concludes

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The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) Commission of Inquiry has concluded its hearings into alleged impropriety.

Established in October 2018 by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the commission held its first meeting in November 2018. It began formal hearings on 21 January 2019. The Commission has heard evidence from 77 witnesses. In his closing remarks, Justice Lex Mpati says they will now prepare their final reports for submission to the President on October 31st 2019.

Mpati however says investigations will be instituted should there be a need.

Mpati said, “Today marks the end of the scheduled public hearings on the allegations of impropriety at the PIC as outlined in the terms of reference that guide the work of the Commission. It is now our task to review, asses, make findings, propose recommendation’s and prepare our final reports in keeping with the terms of reference. In addition to the investigations and testimonies that have been presented to the Commission for the past eight months, further possible questionable transactions have come to the attention of the investigation team. The team will continue with their investigations.”

The Commission heard evidence from 77 witnesses including the Corporations former CEO Dr Dan Matjila, who appeared 12 times. They also heard testimony from former PIC executives and staff members.

Mapati further added, “Anyone with evidence or has been mentioned in evidence to date and wishes to place their version of events on record are welcome to submit their testimony  by way of sworn a affidavit and all such submissions will form part of the testimonies that will be considered by the Commission while writing our report.”

The Commission’s interim reports were submitted to the President on 15th February 2019 , since then the term of the Commission has been extended twice from 15th April to 31 July and then again to 31 October 2019.

Businessman and former unionist Jayendra Naidoo was the last to testify this week. He told the commission the PIC wanted to invest further into Steinhoff because they had governance concerns and foresaw commercial benefits of the investment.

Naidoo who would have sat on the Steinhoff board would have exacted some sort of influence in favour of the PIC. He says the PIC would have had a “friendly on the board.”  Naidoo’s company Lancaster 101, received a R9.3-billion  funding facility from the PIC to invest in Steinhoff. Naidoo owned 25 percent of Lancaster, while the PIC held 50 percent . The remaining 25 percent is allocated to a B-BBEE group. The PIC and Lancaster deal was concluded months before the collapse of Steinhoff.

Naidoo says, “The PIC saw the benefit of the commercial nature of the proposal and was also keen to access the strategic influence that could arise from the relationship between Lancaster Group and Steinhoff. I was being invited to become a part of a leadership group and there was more strategic influence that was capable of being associated with this transaction than simply buying a share through the stock exchange on the market in an anonymous way.”

Last year President Cyril Ramaphosa established the PIC commission to investigate “the veracity of alleged improprieties” with the aim of restoring confidence in the corporation. The PIC is important as it is tasked in managing R2 trillion worth of assets for more than 98 percent of government employees.