Black Business Council wants to meet Kuben Naidoo over Pityana allegations

Sipho Pityana claims in court papers that AngloGold Ashanti chair Maria Ramos improperly influenced banking regulator to block his appointment as Absa chair

Andisiwe Makinana Political correspondent
Sipho Pityana said the process had damaged his reputation and was defamatory. File photo.
Sipho Pityana said the process had damaged his reputation and was defamatory. File photo.
Image: LEON SADIKI

The Black Business Council wants an urgent meeting with SA Reserve Bank deputy governor Kuben Naidoo to discuss allegations made by prominent business leader Sipho Pityana.

Naidoo is also the CEO of the Prudential Authority (PA).

The Black Business Council (BBC) said it was concerned about allegations of interference by the Prudential Authority of the Reserve Bank.

In a statement on Wednesday, the council quoted CEO Kganki Matabane as saying they will request the meeting with Naidoo to fully understand what happened.

Pityana filed papers this week asking the high court to declare that the Prudential Authority acted unlawfully in blocking his appointment as chair of Absa.

The former Business Unity SA (Busa) president claims the Prudential Authority conducted an informal process with the boards of Absa Bank and Absa Holdings in connection with his nomination.

He claims that AngloGold Ashanti chairperson Maria Ramos improperly influenced the banking regulator to block the appointment.

BusinessLIVE reported on Monday that Pityana claims that the informal process “circumvented procedures set out in the Banks Act” and culminated in board chair Wendy Lucas-Bull being informally told by Naidoo that he would not support his nomination.

While it is the responsibility of the board of directors of a bank to nominate a shortlist of two for the chair post, the PA must determine if the candidate is “fit and proper” and whether the appointment is in the public interest.

The informal interaction ultimately resulted in the board declining to formally nominate him, says Pityana. However, at the same time it affirmed him as lead independent director, an indication, says Pityana, that it retained its trust in him, BusinessLIVE reported.

Pityana also charged that the process had damaged his reputation and was defamatory “as it implies that he is not fit and proper” or his appointment would not be “in the public interest”.

According to Pityana, Naidoo made the Absa board aware of a sexual harassment allegation against Pityana, which the latter said had been brought to Naidoo’s attention by Ramos. The allegation dates back to 2020 when both Pityana and Ramos served on the board of AngloGold Ashanti. At the time, the two were on opposite sides of a divide over various strategic issues, including the offshore listing of the company. Pityana denies the sexual allegations.

In his affidavit, Pityana states that this was because of the divisions in the board. He had learnt through Lucas-Bull that Naidoo had been told by Ramos that he resigned to avoid an adverse decision against him by AngloGold Ashanti.

The AngloGold Ashanti report was reviewed by an independent lawyer on behalf of Absa. The review pointed out serious problems with the report, including that crucial evidence had been disregarded.

Business Unity SA declined to comment when approached on Wednesday, saying it was not commenting on the issue.

Meanwhile, the BBC congratulated Sello Moloko on his appointment as Absa's incoming chair. It described him as a highly qualified and regarded professional in the financial and other important sectors of the economy.

“The BBC will work with Sello to ensure that the economic transformation project at Absa proceeds unabated. We are positive that he will usher in a new CEO who will enhance the gender and racial diversity that is so desperately required at the top echelons of corporate SA,” said Matabane.

Absa announced on Tuesday that Moloko, the current chair of both Telkom and Momentum Metropolitan Holdings, will relinquish his role at Momentum and join the Absa board in December before taking on the role of chairperson in April 2022.

TimesLIVE


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