The JSE fined and publicly censured two former officials from companies linked to businessman Iqbal Survé.
Abdul Malick Salie, the former chief investment officer of African Equity Empowerment Investments Limited (AEEI), was found to be one of the people responsible for AYO Technology’s controversial 2018 interim results. These were published shortly after the IT group was listed on the stock exchange in December 2017 and contained errors.
In 2019, Salie served as AYO’s CFO for a brief period of time. He was fined R250 000 by the JSE. In contrast, AYO was fined R6.5 million in 2020 for publishing those results, which contained material errors.
Survé’s Sekunjalo stable of companies includes AYO, a technology company. It is a division of AEEI, which is a division of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings (SIH). Survé is the sole trustee of a trust that owns 100% of SIH.
The JSE announced on Tuesday that it had fined AYO’s other former CFO, Naahied Gamieldien, R250 000 for violating listing requirements, specifically with regard to payments involving 3 Laws Capital, a boutique asset management firm that was expected to manage funds for the tech firm. At the time, Sekunjalo was the majority shareholder in 3 Laws.
When deciding on the fine, the bourse stated that it believed both Salie and Gamieldien were transparent and fully cooperated with its investigations. The JSE is still looking into other current and former AYO officials.
This is not the first time the JSE has taken action against officials connected to AYO’s contentious 2018 interim results. It barred two former AYO directors, Mbuso Khoza and Telang Ntsasa, from serving as directors of publicly traded companies for five years in February. While neither of them prepared the interim results, they did fail in their oversight role as members of AYO’s audit and risk committee.
In the case of Gamieldien, the JSE discovered that she failed to disclose a R400 million material investment paid to 3 Laws on 5 March 2018 as a “post-balance-sheet event” in the unaudited 2018 interim results. She also violated regulations by making payments directly into 3 Laws’ bank account, causing AYO to fail to meet listing requirements. She also failed to ensure that shareholders and the general public were informed of pertinent information regarding the 3 Laws transactions.
Both Salie and Gamieldien had previously testified about their time at AYO to the Mpati Commission on Inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).
The PIC, which manages over R2 trillion in investments on behalf of public servants, paid R4.3 billion for all of AYO’s shares in issue. Since then, the group’s share price has dropped by more than 90%, from more than R40 per share to around R3 per share today.
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According to news reports at the time, Salie testified that the valuation of AYO increased at Survé’s request following a meeting in 2017 between Survé, Salie, and Abdulla. Survé informed the commission that the listing was led by the AEEI and AYO teams.
According to reports, Gamieldien told the inquiry that Abdulla summoned her to his home to discuss the technology company’s February 2018 interim results and asked her to “adjust” margins to increase profit.
The Mpati report discovered that members of the Sekunjalo Group of companies’ boards were “not independent.”
According to the report, the R4.3 billion transaction between the PIC and AYO demonstrated “malfeasance of the Sekunjalo Group [and] the impropriety of the PIC’s process and practice.”
It advised the PIC to conduct a forensic review of all transactions with the Sekunjalo Group and take all “necessary steps” to recover the money owed.