Battle over R6bn staff’ retirement fund

Allegations of corruption, company espionage and the peddling of commerce secrets and techniques are on the centre of a battle over a R6-billion staff’ pension fund. 

The battle over the retirement fund for the Chemical, Power, Paper, Printing, Wooden and Allied Staff Union (Ceppwawu) is being waged between the fund administrator, NBC Holdings and alleged usurpers, Akani Holdings.  

Akani was appointed as administrator in December.

The union represents 21 600 staff and Ceppwawu’s profitable funding portfolio reportedly consists of shares in Aspen, Sasol, Nampak and Transpaco.

In what has turn into an more and more acrimonious struggle, now being heard earlier than the Johannesburg excessive court docket, Akani has been accused of poaching two of NBC’s representatives on the fund’s board, apparently utilizing a funeral service that’s registered to Akani’s managing director to make use of the pair. 

NBC have, in flip, been accused of sending a junior staffer to spy on Akani, providing the mole R300 for his troubles. 

NBC had been administering the Chemical Industries Nationwide Provident Fund (CINPF) for practically three many years. The disharmony began with the CINPF board of trustees making quite a few complaints towards NBC for charging exorbitant charges. This resulted of their instituting a forensic investigation into the conduct of NBC.

The forensic report, performed by Gobodo Investigative and Accounting, exhibits how funds have been moved from one fund supervisor to a different, leading to a Sandton-based investments firm, Avior Capital Markets allegedly siphoning R53-million.

After the Gobodo report, trustees voted to maneuver sure providers from NBC, to Akani Holdings in 2019.

Some members of the CINPF, joined by NBC, nevertheless, have challenged the appointment of Akani on the idea that it was made on “false and deceptive data” fed to the CINPF’s trustees in addition to allegations of corruption on the a part of Akani and others.

The matter is about to seem earlier than court docket once more this month as NBC alleges that the trustees have been manipulated by a number of of its staff who labored with Akani to destroy its relations with the fund.

In a leaked NBC workers memo, issued by the board of administrators on December 2 2019, it states their suspicions of the discover to terminate its providers as a “results of betrayal, executed over time by individuals employed and entrusted with the custody and providers of this essential shopper”.

The memo additional states “it’s clear that the betrayal has been executed in collusion with exterior events eager to get entry to this fund and the retirement financial savings…”

On the centre of this are two former staff — Victor Chaane and Sipho Ginya — who’re accused of promoting commerce secrets and techniques.

“Our suspicion was confirmed on Friday afternoon when the resignation with quick impact of Chaane and that of his direct subordinate Ginya have been acquired from a Germiston-based lawyer appearing on their behalf,” the memo reads.

Ginya, Chaane and members of their group have been consultants to the CINPF and managed the connection between NBC and the fund. 

NBC claims to have uncovered quite a few funds from Neighbour Funeral Providers, an organization owned by the managing director of Akani, Zamani Letjane, to Ginya and Chaane. 

In a responding affidavit Letjane says the pair approached him for jobs after their resignation at NBC. 

In court docket papers NBC suggests a rigorously thought-about plot by the 2 to undermine their enterprise with CINPF.

NBC says its investigations have revealed that Chaane and Ginya had a number of conferences with Letjane days and weeks earlier than the CINPF board handed the decision to fireside NBC, on November 21 and 22 final yr. 

Though Chaane and Ginya and members of their group have been in that assembly, they solely knowledgeable NBC concerning the resolution on November 28. NBC says by that point it had heard of the choice by means of unofficial channels. The corporate says it confronted the 2 on November 29 however they instantly submitted resignation letters by means of an lawyer.

In little greater than two weeks, Akani could be appointed as new contractors.

On November 27 a sub-committee arrange by the CINPF board invited Akani and 10 different firms to submit bids to take over NBC’s contracts with the pension fund. 

A day after that assembly Akani submitted a bid for a lot of the contracts that NBC had misplaced. 

On December 6 the identical sub-committee of the CINPF board made a shortlist of three bidders to be thought-about for these contracts. Akani made its presentation to the sub-committee on December 11 and was appointed. The sub-committee then performed a due diligence into Akani’s skills at their places of work a day later. On December 13 Akani’s appointment was ratified by the complete board.

Different allegations by NBC are that the trustees violated the fund’s guidelines and did not seek the advice of sure buildings earlier than the choice.

NBC themselves additionally allegedly engaged in nefarious practices as soon as their multi-billion rand contract with the employees fund proved in danger. 

In supporting court docket papers, financial institution statements and WhatsApp messages, NBC’s head of authorized and compliance, Lieb van Zyl, seemingly ordered a former junior member to go to Akani below false pretences as a method to spy on the corporate. He later despatched R300 through EFT to the previous worker’s private account to cowl petrol prices to Akani’s Gauteng places of work on the East Rand.

In a supporting affidavit, the previous junior worker states how he was provided a pay enhance and promotion if he would signal a false affidavit concerning the happenings at Akani’s places of work. 

Individually, a series of leaked emails units out in nice element how NBC plotted to destabilise Ceppwawu in makes an attempt to win again their enterprise. 

On the centre of that is mentioned to be former common secretary of Ceppwawu, Simon Mofokeng, who now works as an advisor to NBC’s chief govt Bassie Maisela. 

The politically related Mofokeng allegedly tried to steer factions throughout the union to sway their votes in direction of NBC. Whereas secretary common, Mofokeng was accused of utilizing his place to try to affect a questionable R60-million deal involving Sasol. He was additionally the topic of a court docket bid to take away him as director of the union’s investments. He was later dismissed in 2017, after failing to attend an inner disciplinary listening to.

NBC has held the union contract for practically three many years. Each NBC and Akani mentioned they weren’t “combating” over the contract however are partaking in a authorized dispute on the matter.

Van Zyl mentioned the fund is concerned in “a authorized dispute between sure CINPF members and NBC on the one hand and CINPF and its board of trustees on the opposite”.

NBC introduced its utility towards CINPF and its trustees in February 2020, to have choices taken by them in November and December 2019 put aside on an pressing foundation. 

Choose Bashier Vally dominated that the CINPF must be interdicted from implementing the appointment of Akani because the fund’s administrator and that the NBC ought to proceed rendering all providers to the fund till the matter is heard and finalised on July 31. 

The decide additionally discovered that the allegations of corruption towards Akani, Chaane, Ginya and others implicated couldn’t be ignored. The decide mentioned it’s for the court docket to in the end resolve if the termination of NBC’s contract and the appointment of Akani was lawful.

This text was supported by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.