AMABHUNGANE

Is Iqbal Survé’s ship sinking?

By Dewald van Rensburg for amaBhungane 17 October 2019
Caption
R1-billion had to be written off in relation to PIC non-performing investments in Iqbal Surve-controlled Independent Media. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Lerato Maduna)

His major financial backer sued him; he’s been raided; and now his auditors are jumping ship.

Iqbal Survé’s troubles are mounting. BDO, the auditors of not only Ayo Technology Solutions, but all Survé’s other major companies, has quit.

In a letter to all the firm’s partners, BDO chief executive Mark Stewart today announced that “after careful consideration by our executive committee, BDO South Africa will not be seeking a renewal of its mandate with the following clients”.

He then lists Survé’s main JSE-listed vehicle, African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI), as well as Ayo Technology Solutions, Premier Fishing and Independent Media, Survé’s struggling media empire which owes the PIC roughly R1-billion it cannot pay.

The first three are listed on the JSE while Independent is a private company controlled by Survé’s Sekunjalo Investment Holdings.

All three of the listed companies that BDO is cutting ties with have also recently been raided by the Financial Services Conduct Authority in relation to market manipulation investigations amaBhungane has previously reported on here.

Ayo has also had an incestuous relationship with the rest of the group, which is ultimately controlled by Survé through Sekunjalo. Most of Ayo’s investments have benefited related parties.

There have been accusations, hotly denied, that the company is squirreling away what remains of the R4.3-billion the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) unwisely invested in Ayo.

At Ayo, BDO’s exit is doubly significant because the company has been ordered by the JSE to have its financial statements for the six months ending 28 February 2018 essentially re-audited – by BDO.

This process has dragged on for several months since the JSE first made the order in April 2019.

Phone calls and messages to Survé and the CEO of AEEI, Khalid Abdulla, were not answered this afternoon.

The PIC is currently trying to recoup its R4.3-billion from Ayo, arguing in court that the investment was based on misrepresentations. Ayo is defending the action, arguing that the PIC made a valid investment with its eyes eyes open.

This week, the state-owned asset manager even suggested that it wants to forestall Ayo possibly dissipating the cash.

In an appearance before Parliament this week, the PIC’s acting executive head of legal, governance and compliance, Lindiwe Dlamini, said that the PIC was considering getting an anti-dissipation order to stop money flowing offshore while the recovery case runs its course.

Ayo has vehemently denied any plans to dissipate assets, but maintains it is entitled to proceed with an investment and acquisition programme using the PIC’s cash injection. DM

The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, an independent non-profit, produced this story. Like it? Be an amaB Supporter to help us do more. Sign up for our newsletter andWhatsApp alerts to get more.

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