Syg­nia’s trusts to fight cor­rup­tion

The Star Early Edition - - COMPANIES - Sizwe Dlamini

SYG­NIA has launched two new unit classes of its money mar­ket unit trust that pro­vide a mech­a­nism whereby any in­vestor or saver can con­trib­ute to change in South Africa.

The firm, which pro­vides in­vest­ment man­age­ment and ad­min­is­tra­tion ser­vices to in­sti­tu­tional and re­tail clients pri­mar­ily in South Africa, said as a cor­po­rate cit­i­zen it was driven by its de­sire to fight cor­rup­tion, re­store faith in the gov­ern­ment and en­cour­age eco­nomic growth.

Syg­nia chief ex­ec­u­tive Magda Wierzy­cka said many non-po­lit­i­cal lob­by­ing groups, civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ists were fight­ing and ex­pos­ing cor­rup­tion on be­half of South Africa’s 55 mil­lion peo­ple.

“Our courts, through the le­gal ac­tions brought by non-par­ti­san civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions, have be­come the last guardians of our con­sti­tu­tion and democ­racy. They are aided by coura­geous and ded­i­cated jour­nal­ists will­ing to in­ves­ti­gate is­sues and shed light on cor­rupt prac­tices. But court cases and in­ves­ti­ga­tions re­quire sup­port and fund­ing.”

Their good in­ten­tions alone were not enough, how­ever, as they re­quired sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing to in­ves­ti­gate and fight th­ese cases in court, Wierzy­cka said.

“We have de­cided to step in and help – 100 per­cent of the man­age­ment fees as­so­ci­ated with the new unit classes will be do­nated to non-po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions fight­ing cor­rup­tion…”

Th­ese or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clude the Or­gan­i­sa­tion Un­do­ing Tax Abuse, the Black Sash, amaBhun­gane Cen­tre for In­ves­tiga­tive Jour­nal­ism, Cor­rup­tion Watch, the He­len Suz­man Foun­da­tion, the Coun­cil for the Ad­vance­ment of the SA Con­sti­tu­tion, the Kgalema Mot­lanthe Foun­da­tion and the Ahmed Kathrada Foun­da­tion.

The com­pany said it fully un­der­stood that ev­ery in­vestor wanted a say in how the man­age­ment fees they paid were al­lo­cated, but for those who wished to ef­fect pos­i­tive change two new unit trust classes of the Syg­nia Money Mar­ket Fund were now avail­able – Class S1 and Class S2.

Class S1 has an an­nual man­age­ment fee of 0.5 per­cent, while Class S2, has an an­nual man­age­ment fee of 1 per­cent. The unit trusts will be man­aged on a to­tally non-profit ba­sis by Syg­nia.

Spare change

“We in­ten­tion­ally chose a money mar­ket unit trust as it is as close to a ‘cash’ in­vest­ment as the as­set man­age­ment in­dus­try has to of­fer. If you have some spare change in a bank ac­count or are an ex­ist­ing money mar­ket unit trust in­vestor, con­sider put­ting your sav­ings to bet­ter use,” said Wierzy­cka.

“You can in­vest as lit­tle as a once-off amount of R1 000, or a reg­u­lar R500 per month. You can also with­draw your money at any stage.

Ac­cord­ing to the in­vest­ment man­age­ment com­pany’s web­site, the in­vest­ment was not lim­ited to in­di­vid­u­als. “Com­pa­nies, trusts and re­tire­ment funds are en­cour­aged to in­vest too.”

Wierzy­cka said: “We be­lieve that cor­rup­tion eats away at the moral fab­ric of our so­ci­ety.

“Whether it is in the gov­ern­ment or the pri­vate sec­tor, the mes­sage is the same: South Africa can­not thrive while cor­rupt prac­tices are an ac­cepted way of do­ing busi­ness – hence our de­sire to sup­port all ef­forts aimed at ex­pos­ing and erad­i­cat­ing cor­rup­tion from our daily lives.

“We have all agreed to pro­vide our ser­vices pro bono,

so ev­ery cent of your man­age­ment fee will go to the or­gan­i­sa­tions.

“To be clear, you are not do­nat­ing your own money. You are in­vest­ing it and can still with­draw it at any stage.

“Syg­nia is do­nat­ing the fee that it would nor­mally charge to man­age your money,” Wierzy­cka added.

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