Magda Wierzycka paints a gloomy picture for PIC billions in Iqbal Survé's hands

Magda Wierzycka in her office in Sandton, Johannesburg.
Magda Wierzycka in her office in Sandton, Johannesburg.
Image: ALON SKUY​

Looted funds from its coffers helped “grease the wheels” of groups like the Broederbond long before 1994, and the Public Investment Corporation’s billions are still a “honey pot” for the connected few.

This is according to billionaire Magda Wierzycka, who spoke to the Cape Town Press Club on Wednesday about what she believes is the plundering of the PIC.

Describing it as “the closest thing South Africa has to a sovereign wealth fund”, Wierzycka said the PIC has been used to enrich a small group of individuals through a “project” independent of state capture, but running parallel with it.

The Sygnia founder explained some of the findings she had made after taking a “deep dive” into the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listing of AYO Technology Solutions. The PIC invested R4.3bn for a 29% share in AYO, linked to Cape Town businessman Iqbal Survé.

Iqbal Survé at Parliament for the State of the Nation Address on February 7 2019.
Iqbal Survé at Parliament for the State of the Nation Address on February 7 2019.
Image: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp

The PIC lost billions of rands in the Steinhoff scandal, she said, and the R4.3bn invested in AYO was also at stake.

She referred to a recording published by the Sunday Times in which AYO board members, including Survé, allegedly discussed lying to the PIC after his company, African Equity Empowerment Investments, failed to sell its share of British Telecom SA to AYO.

“The PIC money was injected on the premise of their stake in BTSA being sold,” Wierzycka told the press club.

“It was going to be quite simple: AEEI sells its share in BTSA into AYO, the purchase price flows into AEEI and he [Survé] distributes it as dividends. So right there is a R600m bonanza. Just like that. Which he can share with who he knows.

British Telecom SA blocked the transaction between AEEI and AYO, she said, “because they realised that they could become party to corrupt activities in South Africa”.

She added: “Then suddenly AYO is not able to execute this transaction and Iqbal has to account to his masters at the PIC... why the money isn’t coming.”

Wierzycka said there were two issues Survé had to grapple with. “First, the money isn’t coming; and the other issue is they want to actually justify these transactions to the investors, and their whole justification was this prospectus.

“In the recordings you have executives sitting and plotting what they are going to tell the PIC because they can’t tell them the truth – that BT UK has blocked the transaction. They’re not going to tell them that.”

If the affair did not involve PIC funds, supplied by the Government Employees’ Pension Fund, “you couldn’t script this comedy show”, she said.

Survé denied any wrongdoing in response to reports in the Sunday Times and has laid a criminal complaint of extortion against Wierzycka over her attempts to buy AEEI’s shares in Sygnia. In turn, she is suing him for defamation.

The financial services boss hinted at the press club that many more questionable PIC deals would have gone unseen and called on investigative journalists to uncover them.

She said Judge Lex Mpati’s commission of inquiry into the PIC had too little time and too few resources to deal with the rot in the organisation.

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