Ex-Cricket SA independent board member Khan dismisses conflict of interest allegations

Beresford Williams during the Women's Super League launch at Protea Marriot Breakwater on December 13, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Beresford Williams during the Women's Super League launch at Protea Marriot Breakwater on December 13, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: Bertram Malgas/Gallo Images

Former Cricket South Africa (CSA) independent board member Iqbal Khan has dismissed allegations that there was a conflict of interest involving him and current acting president Beresford Williams at Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA).

SowetanLIVE reported in July that a complaint against Khan was formally reported in November last year by a fellow board member alleging he and then vice-president Beresford Williams were conflicted in a CSA partnership deal concluded with WPCA for the Stadium Upgrade Project (SUP) at Newlands in Cape Town.

Acting CSA president Williams did not respond to questions emailed to him on Tuesday.

Williams‚ who is vying for the CSA presidency at the yet to be announced new date for the postponed AGM which was set for September 5‚ is a former president at WPCA.

Khan said on Wednesday that the article published by TimesLIVE on July 10 “consists of a few untruths”.

“Your article is based on a letter written to the CSA chairman (Chris Nenzani) by (former CSA non-independent board member) Jack Madiseng. I address each of these (untruths) below‚” Khan said in an emailed response to TimesLIVE on Wednesday.

Khan resigned on December 5 last year on the same day as CSA company secretary Welsh Gwaza acknowledged receipt of the formal complaint from Madiseng.

“With regards to Mr Iqbal Khan‚ it is alleged that at his place of employment he is a direct subordinate of an independent member of the WPCA Board (Mustaq Brey) and the chairman of one of its key committees‚” Gwaza wrote in acknowledging receipt of the complaint.

“It is alleged that the failure to declare such conflict of interest persisted for a period of time‚ including‚ but not limited to a critical period where the WPCA applied for loans from CSA‚ and Mr Iqbal Khan‚ in his capacity as the chairman of the CSA finance and commercial committee (without declaring the conflict of interest) proceeded to recommend to the CSA Board that such loans be advanced to WPCA‚ and participated in the decision-making related to such requests.

“To ensure that the complaint was given the appropriate attention as per the requirements of the CSA Constitutive documents‚ the complaint was submitted to the Social and Ethics Committee for investigation‚ which investigation was ongoing.

“The outcome of such investigation would have formed part of that Social and Ethics Committee’s submissions to the Board.”

Khan resigned on December 5 last year while Brey resigned from his independent directorship role at the WPCA two months ago in July.

Khan is chief operating officer at JSE-listed Brimstone‚ a company where Brey serves as CEO. Khan and Brey are listed as active directors along with 10 others.

“No conflict existed for Mr Brey or myself as both of us had no involvement or interest in the Stadium Upgrade Project (SUP) at all at any level‚” said Khan.

But revelations from former CSA president Chris Nenzani during his consultation session with Fundudzi Forensic Services investigators in June revealed that Khan‚ as finance committee chairman‚ and former WPCA president Williams‚ who was CSA vice-president at the time‚ sat in committee meetings that approved a R5-million loan by WPCA.

The chartered accountant’s alleged conflict formed part of CSA’s forensic audit and investigation commissioned in March to look into board and management practices at the organisation over the past four years.

The investigators’ opinion after carrying out their work was that Khan was conflicted to sit‚ adjudicate and award a loan of R5-million to WPCA‚ according to a transcript of a session between Nenzani and the investigators that TimesLIVE is in possession of.

Nenzani‚ who resigned last month three weeks before an AGM where his successor was to be elected‚ admitted during his session with the investigators that Khan and Williams were potentially conflicted.

“There is a potential of conflict of interest‚ and when I became aware‚ remember‚ how can I put this‚ at the time‚ Mr Williams was not‚ no longer a president of the Western Province association‚” Nenzani said during his interrogation by the investigators in June.

The investigators pointed out to Nenzani that Williams was his right-hand man as vice-president.

“Yes‚ to such an extent that I requested him (Williams)‚ once I began my work that he should always recuse himself when these matters are discussed.

“And fortunately‚ Iqbal also indicated that‚ he declared his situation and for the board to understand and know that somehow‚ he is connected because he‚ Mr Brey is his CEO‚ in Brimstone‚ and also therefore might create potential conflict of interest.

“But question then is‚ were they as individuals aware of this‚ even before anybody else could have sort of highlighted this matter‚ as a potential issue that could raise matters of conflict? They should have been aware‚” said Nenzani.

“(They should have) recused themselves‚ but after I spoke to Beresford‚ he has always recused himself when these matters are discussed but before then‚ he didn’t‚ until he became clear that there is a conflict‚ or a potential for conflict of interest and I spoke to him.”

Khan denied that CSA loaned money to WPCA and said the union owed its mother body monies built up for over 10 to 15 years.

He said‚ as a settling mechanism‚ WPCA offered CSA and investment opportunity into their stadium upgrade.

“CSA fincomm evaluated this opportunity using commercial metrics and accepted this offer to subscribe into the stadium project.

“The decision to invest in the stadium project was made collectively by Fincom and not me‚ although I was chair of Fincom at the time‚” insisted Khan.

“Loans were not granted to WPCA. Monies were advanced to WPCA as part of CSA’s proportional contributions against collateral security.

“These proportional contributions were made prematurely to facilitate delays in legal agreement completion and to ensure continuity in the building process.”

Khan said the stadium projected attractive commercial returns to CSA which included substantial signed leases. He said WPCA viewed the partnership with CSA as a commencement of the province’s financial independence.

The CSA Board Charter stipulates‚ in paragraph 13‚ that “the Board shall consistently apply the provisions of the Companies Act on the disclosure and/or avoidance of any conflicts of interest. Members shall be required to declare their interests in general on an annual basis and specifically at each meeting of the Board.”

The CSA Code of Ethics (clause 2.3) states the following in regards to conflict of interest:

“CSA personnel are required to be free from any influence which might interfere or seem to interfere with the proper and efficient discharge of their duties or which might impact or seem to impact on their duty of loyalty to CSA.

“Where a CSA stakeholder‚ either directly or indirectly has a conflict or there is a potential for a conflict to arise‚ then he/she must:

“Disclose the interest to the Company Secretary who shall have the authority‚ after consultation with the Chairman‚ to either permit the conflict or refer the matter to the Social & Ethics Committee for further consideration;

“Excuse him/herself from any formal discussions related to the conflict of interest; and (c) abstain from voting and from seeking to influence the vote on any matter related to the conflict of interest.