FSCA raid was ‘an in­tim­i­da­tion tac­tic’

Po­lit­i­cal ca­bal ac­cused of us­ing un­der­handed tac­tics to get inside in­for­ma­tion on com­pany’s le­gal strat­egy

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - PIET RAMPEDI, SIZWE DLAMINI and AYANDA MDLULI

THE Fi­nan­cial Sec­tor Con­duct Author­ity (FSCA) and po­lice swooped on the of­fices of Sekun­jalo In­vest­ment Hold­ings and African Eq­uity Em­pow­er­ment In­vest­ments (AEEI) in Cape Town yes­ter­day and tried to con­fis­cate lap­tops and com­puter hard drives.

They claimed they were prob­ing a case of mar­ket ma­nip­u­la­tion against one of busi­ness­man Dr Iqbal Survé’s com­pa­nies, AYO Tech­nol­ogy So­lu­tions.

Survé, who is chair­man of Sekun­jalo In­vest­ment Hold­ings, de­scribed the search as a “fish­ing ex­pe­di­tion” and “an in­tim­i­da­tion tac­tic”.

The team went di­rectly to the desk of Survé’s per­sonal as­sis­tant, Maude Nyan­doro, and de­manded her lap­top.

With­out pro­duc­ing a search war­rant, they be­gan down­load­ing in­for­ma­tion from Nyan­doro’s lap­top.

How­ever, they stopped half­way through when com­pany lawyers ar­rived and de­manded the le­gal doc­u­ments au­tho­ris­ing the raid.

Survé, who is also ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of In­de­pen­dent Me­dia, was not in the build­ing when the FSCA team ar­rived.

How­ever, he ar­rived an hour later and de­scribed the raid as part of an or­ches­trated po­lit­i­cal cam­paign against him and his com­pa­nies.

A staff mem­ber said the raid team ar­rived just be­fore 9am.

“The first thing they did was to go for Maude’s lap­top and started down­load­ing stuff. They said they had a court or­der but didn’t pro­duce it. That’s why they couldn’t down­load any more.”

Survé said he would have had no prob­lem giv­ing the FSCA in­for­ma­tion, had they sim­ply asked for it.

He said the FSCA de­cided to raid his com­pa­nies in its probe into share trad­ing, even though AYO was the of­fi­cial com­plainant in the mat­ter.

“This is a des­per­ate at­tempt to stop us from pub­lish­ing the truth. Iron­i­cally, it’s Sekun­jalo that lodged a for­mal com­plaint with the FSCA against cer­tain well-known hedge funds and as­set man­agers that were try­ing to bring down AYO’s share price,” Survé said.

“In­stead of in­ves­ti­gat­ing that, the FSCA is be­ing used to in­tim­i­date us into sub­mis­sion.”

The raid is the lat­est in an on-go­ing bat­tle be­tween Survé and mul­ti­ple state reg­u­la­tory bod­ies.

Sources said it was part of an or­ches­trated move against Survé’s com­pa­nies for al­legedly not “toe­ing the po­lit­i­cal line” and due to In­de­pen­dent Me­dia’s pub­lish­ing of ex­posés in­volv­ing key fig­ures in the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ear­lier this year, the Com­pa­nies and In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Com­mis­sion (CIPC) is­sued a com­pli­ance no­tice against the board of di­rec­tors of the Pub­lic In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (PIC) to re­coup the R4.3 bil­lion in­vest­ment it made into AYO Tech­nol­ogy So­lu­tions in 2017.

This move was de­clared un­law­ful by North Gaut­eng High Court Judge Cornelius van der Westhuizen, who dis­missed the case with costs.

Survé added that the raid was part of a “con­certed at­tempt by a ca­bal” to use state in­sti­tu­tions and reg­u­la­tory bod­ies such as the SA Rev­enue Ser­vice, FSCA, CIPC and even the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Cen­tre to try and “find some­thing to in­tim­i­date us”.

“We’re not go­ing to be in­tim­i­dated by this bla­tant at­tempt to use state in­sti­tu­tions to drive a po­lit­i­cal agenda. We’re re­li­ably in­formed of clan­des­tine meet­ings over the past week­end that took place be­tween in­di­vid­u­als from these state reg­u­la­tory bod­ies and pow­er­ful politi­cians.

“They are frus­trated that the Mpati Com­mis­sion couldn’t find any­thing ir­reg­u­lar and are now us­ing state in­sti­tu­tions to go on a fish­ing ex­pe­di­tion to in­tim­i­date our com­pa­nies,” he said.

The busi­ness­man de­scribed the raid as an un­der­handed tac­tic to get inside in­for­ma­tion on AYO’s le­gal strat­egy af­ter the com­pany stated its in­tent to sue the PIC for bil­lions in dam­ages.

“There’s a huge con­flict of in­ter­est as the FSCA com­mis­sioner is Abel Sit­hole, who’s also the prin­ci­pal of­fi­cer of the Govern­ment Em­ploy­ees Pen­sion Fund (GEPF). This is an un­der­hand at­tempt to get the in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to our le­gal case against the PIC and the GEPF.”

The FSCA team al­legedly in­tim­i­dated Sekun­jalo staff and tried to pre­vent the me­dia from re­port­ing on the raid.

“They are look­ing for in­for­ma­tion that our jour­nal­ists have re­lat­ing to cor­rup­tion which im­pli­cates cer­tain politi­cians. This is ef­fec­tively an at­tack on me­dia free­dom,” he said.

A lawyer ap­pointed by the court, Zola Mcaciso, said he was present to en­sure both par­ties com­plied with the court or­der.

“I’m just here to en­sure that the in­ves­ti­ga­tors don’t op­er­ate out­side of their pow­ers and that those who are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated ad­here to the court or­der.”

In a meet­ing be­tween the par­ties, Mcaciso re­as­sured rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Sekun­jalo that the in­for­ma­tion ob­tained from any of the hard drives would be sealed with the courts un­til the com­pany launched its own high court ap­pli­ca­tion.

In a state­ment, the FSCA said the raid was con­ducted as part of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions of pro­hib­ited trad­ing prac­tices (mar­ket ma­nip­u­la­tion), in pos­si­ble con­tra­ven­tion of the Fi­nan­cial Mar­kets Act.

It said West­ern Cape High Court Judge Pat Gam­ble had granted the or­der for the search on Oc­to­ber 8.

“It al­lows the FSCA to con­duct the search un­der the su­per­vi­sion of an in­de­pen­dent at­tor­ney. As a mar­ket con­duct reg­u­la­tor, the FSCA is man­dated to in­ves­ti­gate, and in ap­pro­pri­ate in­stances, take en­force­ment ac­tion in cases of mar­ket abuse on the fi­nan­cial mar­kets. This is to main­tain the in­tegrity of the fi­nan­cial sec­tor by en­sur­ing that all reg­u­lated en­ti­ties, their key in­di­vid­u­als and rep­re­sen­ta­tives act in the best in­ter­est of the South African con­sumer,” said the FSCA.

| AYANDA NDAMANE African News Agency (ANA)

THE Fi­nan­cial Sec­tor Con­duct Author­ity raided Dr Iqbal Survé’s of­fices in Cape Town yes­ter­day and tried to con­fis­cate lap­tops and com­puter hard drives.

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