South Africa

Sport: Rugby Ruckus

Maties and Jurie Roux begin arbitration battle over R37m

Jurie Roux (SARU CEO) during the South African launch of Guinness PRO14 at Southern Sun Cullinan on August 11, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images)
By Craig Ray
26 Nov 2019 0

The long-awaited arbitration hearing between The University of Stellenbosch (Maties) and SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux finally began in Stellenbosch on Monday.

Maties is suing Jurie Roux and co-accused Chris de Beer for a combined R37-million, which the duo allegedly misappropriated from the institution during their time in senior positions at the Maties Rugby Club.

Advocate Alisdair Sholto-Douglas SC is the arbitrator of the “private and confidential” proceedings, which are expected to last three weeks at an undisclosed venue in Stellenbosch.

Between 2002-2010 Roux was in charge of the Maties Rugby Club’s finances. He served as director and then senior director of financial planning and asset management at the university. The money is alleged to have been used for funding aspects of the Rugby Department without appropriately being allocated by the university. These are claims Roux denies.

Maties commissioned accounting firm KPMG to investigate the allegations and a preliminary report was submitted to the university in late 2013.

Extracts from the preliminary KPMG report were published by Media 24 in early 2016, after a successful court application to obtain it in late 2015.

Reports Media 24 published, once it won the case to have access to the KPMG report, claimed that Roux “manipulated” financial management systems that did not leave an “audit trail” to hide the irregular spending, which he allegedly called “sparries” (spares).

A final KPMG report was lodged as part of Maties’ case at the Western Cape High Court in December 2017. After years of wrangling, a court date was set for May 13, 2019, but was postponed sine die — without a fixed date — after Roux challenged several of Maties claims in an affidavit. The case was eventually struck from the roll with both parties agreeing to arbitration.

The university has not lost the R37-million it is claiming from me,” Roux said in his affidavit. “It appears from the case presented by the university, as well as the university’s own documentation and expert report that the money which the university is claiming from me was spent on legitimate university expenses, incurred by and for the benefit of the university.

The university accordingly does not claim the following: that the money in issue was not spent on behalf of the university, that it would otherwise not have spent that money (and would instead have saved it or invested it), or that it did not obtain the goods and services paid for.

Presumably for that reason, the university has not, as far as I am aware, instituted proceedings to claim any of that money from any service providers or students.

Secondly, to the knowledge of the university, I never took any money from the university (apart from my salary and benefits), let alone R37-million. The university’s expert report confirms that I did not personally benefit from my alleged conduct relied upon for the claim.”

Roux did admit to taking R55,000 because he was owed money in his personal capacity.

I note that, in the expert summary filed on behalf of the University, it is said that Ipotentially” benefited from University funds to the extent of R55,250.00.

That is incorrect. It is correct that I requested Chean Roux (current SA U20 coach and former Maties Rugby Club head coach) to pay me R55,250.00 from funds, which he had received legitimately from the University.

That payment to me was reimbursement of money that I, out of necessity, had paid out of my personal funds in respect of legitimate expenses of the University.

I acknowledge that this was an incorrect procedure for recoupment of disbursements due to me. Indeed, on a reconciliation of the documentation vouching such expenses, which I have undertaken for the purposes of prep of the case against me, it turns out that I under-claimed because the total reimbursement due was in fact around R62,643.00. The documents in this regard have been discovered. The University suffered no loss.”

Roux says when he was in charge of the rugby club’s finances between 2002-2010, the regulations were different to what they are currently. Maties’ charges are based on current regulations and they expect him to provide details of the older regulations.

The university claims that I breached my employment contract,” Roux says. “In particular, it is said that in terms of my employment contract I was bound by the laws, statutes and regulations of the university, as well as its policies and principles, and it is then claimed that I failed to so comply.

However, the university has been unable to produce the statutes, regulations, policies and principles that applied during my employment. Accordingly, I do not know on what basis the university has made the very serious allegations against me.

Instead of producing the documents or evidence of the system on which it relies, the university has attempted to obtain that information from me.

Firstly, in the form of 10-page request for trial particulars, and then reproduced in substantially the same form as a 13-page request for admissions.

I assume that it is unusual for a plaintiff to attempt to build its case against a defendant by demanding particulars and admissions from the defendant, instead of itself putting up all the information required for its case.

I further assume that a defendant is entitled to demand that a plaintiff instead proves its case. This approach is particularly unfortunate when employed by a plaintiff which is as wealthy and powerful an institution as the university, against two private individuals.”

Frikkie Erasmus, Roux’s lawyer, told this writer in May 2019 that:

Administratively, in terms of timing and time availability it is much easier to be in arbitration than in court.

This doesn’t make it a better or worse outcome because a competent arbitrator has been appointed and was agreed to by both parties. The hearing has initially been allocated three weeks. We have no idea how long the hearing will take because there are a lot of witnesses to be called.” DM

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