Iqbal Surve should appear before PIC Commission – Alf Lees

DA says revelations of malfeasance over the weekend implicate Surve in obtaining the R 4,3 billion 'investment'

DA calls on Iqbal Surve to appear before PIC Commission of Inquiry

11 February 2019

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the Lex Mpati Commission of Inquiry into allegations of impropriety related to the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to request that they confirm whether Iqbal Surve, of Independent Newspapers, will appear before the Commission to explain the serious allegations against him that have emerged over the past two weeks.

Revelations of malfeasance over the weekend implicate Surve in obtaining the R 4,3 billion “investment” in AYO from the PIC in what appears to have been false pretenses as well as the subsequent apparent misuse of these funds. This makes it essential that Surve give evidence before the PIC Commission. If necessary, he must be subpoenaed to appear.

The misuse of PIC funds apparently included, amongst others, the following:

- A grossly overvalued investment at R43 per share in AYO Technology (AYO) when shares were apparently only valued at 15 cents per share;

- Surve, apparently a shareholder in AYO through African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI), instructed, via Khalid Abdulla (AEEI CEO and Surve’s brother-in-law) and Malik Salie (AEEI chief Investment officer), what the R4.3 billion received from the PIC was to be used for;

- Surve apparently instructed that R 1.5 billion of the PIC funds be invested externally of AYO in various “slush funds/entities” to use in the event that something similar to what happened to the Guptas happened to AYO and AYO lost the ability access banks; and

- Surve apparently instructed that AYO pay his personal fees of R 1.5 million to allow him to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The Schedule of Regulations that regulate the work of the PIC Commission include provision for the identity and evidence of witnesses to be kept secret. These provisions are contained in the following sections of the Regulations;

10. (1) The Commissioner may, at the request of any person appearing before the Commission direct that no person shall disclose in any manner whatsoever the name or address of such person or any information likely to reveal his or her identity.

(2) The Commissioner may, in appropriate circumstances, make an order that a hearing be held in camera. In such a case, the Commissioner shall specify in the order those persons who will be permitted to attend the hearing in camera. At the request of the witness whose evidence is to be heard in camera, or, on own accord, the Commissioner must order that nobody may, directly or indirectly, disclose the identity of the witness who is to give evidence in camera

It is highly probable that when Iqbal Surve is called to appear before the PIC Commission that he will attempt to invoke section 10 of the Regulations to enable him to give evidence in camera and in secret. Given the considerable information about Surve and AYO’s alleged malfeasance that clearly negatively impacts on government employees and pensioners, it is vital that he not only give evidence before the PIC Commission, but that the testifies in an open session.

The Iqbal Surve/AYO piggy bank must be firmly shut down and urgent steps must be taken by the PIC to recover the R4.3 billion irregularly invested by the PIC in AYO before the funds have all been siphoned off to secret locations. This is particularly important given the resignations of the two AYO officials who seem to have been the only inhibiters for the looting of the full R4.3 billion of pensioners money.

Issued by Alf Lees, DA Deputy Shadow Minister of Finance, 11 February 2019