FSCA raid - two judges rubbish Survé claim of Gordhan link
Legalbrief Today Issue 4802
As the battle between media baron Iqbal Survé and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan becomes increasingly vitriolic following last week’s FSCA raid on the offices of Sekunjalo, a company chaired by Survé, two judges have rubbished allegations run in his weekend newspapers that they had links with Gordhan, notes Legalbrief. Both Judge Lex Mpati, who heads the Public Investment Corporate Commission of Inquiry, and Western Cape High Court Judge Patrick Gamble made clear his allegations that they were somehow tied up with Gordhan held no water. Survé accused Gordhan of trying to influence the commission, and that he wanted the commission to make ‘adverse findings’ against Survé’s companies, according to a report on the IoL site. He also claimed Gamble was a friend of Gordhan and the DA, notes a TimesLIVE report. A Fin24 report quotes Mpati as saying the allegations ‘have no basis in fact’. ‘The commission views the article in a serious light and as part of an on-going attempt to discredit the work of the commission, the integrity of the commissioners and an endeavour to influence its findings. The commission will not tolerate interference in its work from any quarter. Nor will it countenance attempts to influence or intimidate it, irrespective of who may attempt to do so,’ Mpati said. ‘The commission will continue with its work without fear or favour and reserves the right to take action, in accordance with the regulations, against any party who seeks to interfere in its work.’
Gamble denied having any association with either Gordhan or the DA. The TimesLIVE report notes Survé was quoted in reports saying that Gamble – who issued an order for the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) to conduct a raid at his offices in Cape Town – was a friend of the DA and Gordhan. ‘You went to a judge who is a friend of the DA and Pravin Gordhan. This is purely a fishing expedition on your part,’ he said. The FSCA has made it clear the raid at Survé's offices was part of an investigation into allegations of ‘prohibited trading practices’. The body said the order was granted by Gamble on 8 October. In a statement released by the Office of the Chief Justice, Gamble said he did not know Gordhan and had never met him, either in his official or personal capacity. It added that 'Gamble has no affiliation nor membership with any political party, nor has he in the past'. According to the statement, Gamble had dealt with urgent court matters, including the FSCA applications, in the week of 30 September to 4 October. ‘On Tuesday, 1 October 2019 the FSCA lodged two confidential applications with the chief registrar of this court for search warrants of the offices of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings (Pty) Ltd and certain other companies in Cape Town under the relevant statutory provisions. The chief registrar placed the files before Judge Gamble, who thereafter dealt with the applications,’ the CJ's office said.
The Public Servants Association has warned against the use of double standards by the FSCA. According to a report on the IoL site, the PSA said in a statement on Saturday the authority did not conduct similar raids against major corporations involved in wrongdoing. It said there were major companies including retail giant Steinhoff, technology company EOH and others who did not conduct themselves properly but there was no action against their officials. PSA said there must be equal treatment of companies.
Survé, however, remains steadfast in his claim he has ‘sufficient evidence’ to show Gordhan was involved in the raid, but that this evidence will be presented at the ‘appropriate time’. At the time of the raid, notes Fin24, Survé blamed ‘dark forces’, alleging it was an attempt ‘to get information we have on … Gordhan and the President (Cyril Ramaphosa) and which my reporters are about to publish this weekend’. Gordhan's legal team has previously slammed Survé’s allegations of the Minister's involvement as defamatory. His attorney, Tebogo Malatji, called the claims ‘malicious, yet nonsensical, utterances’ and said Survé's attacks on Gordhan were unsubstantiated, without basis in any evidence or facts. Earlier in the week, Survé also said he intended to sue the FSCA. The authority, in turn, has said it will defend itself if any such legal action is brought. Survé reportedly told Fin24 on Friday he had never implied Ramaphosa was part of the raid. However, he said he had been ‘been presented with sufficient evidence to show that … Gordhan has had several meetings, and with numerous people, including FSCA officials, that indicate he had a hand in the matter’. Asked what evidence he had to indicate this, he responded: ‘The evidence will be presented at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum.’
Survé has also accused Gordhan of using state institutions such as the FSCA, SARS and Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission to fight political and business rivals, says the Sunday Tribune, one of his newspapers. It quotes Survé at length: ‘Implicit in Mr Gordhan’s statement is that he is either knowledgeable about the Mpati Commission or has a role in influencing its outcomes. It is regrettable in both instances and supports the widely held view that Mr Gordhan uses his influence in regulatory institutions as an instrument against his detractors or those with whom he disagrees. When exposed for his underhand and clandestine dealings, Mr Gordhan refers to a fight back campaign. This fight back campaign is a figment of his imagination. I call on President Ramaphosa not to allow Minister Gordhan to abuse his powerful position in our economy against those who differ with him.’ Survé was responding to a statement released by Gordhan on Thursday in which he accused him of trying to deflect attention from the Mpati Commission. ‘What the South African public knows is that Mr Survé and his business entities have been the subject of the Mpati Commission of Inquiry. The attempt at deflecting attention from this, by making false and defamatory allegations against Minister Gordhan and others, will not assist him and others in being held accountable for possible transgressions of the law,’ Gordhan said in a statement, released through his lawyer.
A letter from an alleged whistle-blower is featured in reports in newspapers in the Survé stable at the weekend. The Sunday Independent says that in a letter to the Sekunjalo Group, the whistle-blower says Gordhan had met Mpati Commissioners Gill Marcus and Emmanuel Lediga, and Eskom chairperson Jabu Mabuza at a restaurant in Pretoria where a decision was taken ‘to destroy you and your businesses’. ‘The plan to (destroy) your credibility was discussed a few days before you testified at the commission (of inquiry into the PIC). A meeting was held at the Fuma restaurant – Pretoria. In attendance were Gill Marcus, Pravin Gordhan (an aide of his left after a short while), assistant commissioner Emmanuel Lediga and Jabu Mabuza. At the meeting they discussed about the line and type of questions to be asked. A document was handed to Gill Marcus,’ read part of the letter, dated 12 June 2019.
Gordhan’s lawyer, Malatji, responded: ‘Our client categorically denies the allegations contained in your query regarding a meeting allegedly held at Fuma (sic) restaurant in Pretoria. No such meeting took place. Sekunjalo Investment Holdings and Mr Iqbal Survé must deal with their issues with respect to an investigation by the FSCA into their affairs, and whatever evidence was presented to, or is being investigated by Judge Lex Mpati and the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation, that may implicate them in acts of impropriety. They should refrain from drawing our client into matters that do not involve him. Our client rejects the allegations contained in your inquiry as malicious, derisive and false. Our client emphatically denies that he was part of any conspiracy or plans “to destroy Dr Iqbal Survé and his businesses”, as you allege.’ The Sunday Independent report also quotes the spokesperson for Eskom chairperson Mabuza, Dikatso Mothae, who said: ‘Mabuza has not been in any one meeting with all the above persons in attendance to discuss any matter. He has no knowledge or has not been party to any conversations involving the Mpati commission of inquiry.’