CEO of Africa's Biggest Fund Manager Rejects Misconduct Claims

(Bloomberg) -- Daniel Matjila, the chief executive officer of Public Investment Corp., has responded to a range of allegations made against him amid reports that he may face suspension.

The Pretoria-based PIC manages South African state-workers’ pensions and oversees assets worth more than 2 trillion rand ($138 billion). Several investments by Africa’s biggest money manager are being investigated, along with Matjila’s role in them.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who took office in February, is on a drive to restore confidence in public institutions following his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s scandal-marred nine-year tenure. Matjila, 56, said he wanted to defend his name against “unsubstantiated, malicious and spurious allegations.” His employment contract ends in December 2019 after 15 years at the PIC.

“I am greatly encouraged that the South African legal system, in its inexorable quest for justice, has zero countenance for gossip, innuendo and hearsay,” Matjila said in an emailed statement on Thursday. “I am 100 percent confident the stability and the security of the PIC will continue unabated,” he said after welcoming a commission of inquiry instituted by Ramaphosa.

Investment Returns

In his letter, Matjila pointed to the government employees’ fund return on investment of more than 10 percent over the past decade as well as PIC’s “clean audits - a rare phenomenon in the public sector.” He started by addressing assertions that he’s been reckless in investments of 70 billion rand in unlisted companies as the PIC has sought to look for opportunities for “transformation and inclusive growth.”

Matjila also tackled losses from PIC’s investment in troubled retailer Steinhoff International Holdings N.V., any link he had to looting and the collapse of VBS Mutual Bank, an allegation of nepotism and he vehemently denied accusations that he was romantically involved with a woman to whom he gave loans.

On Steinhoff, Matjila argued that the money manager was required to invest in the retailer as it was part of the index PIC is mandated to track, adding that the losses were “thoroughly cushioned.”

“As for my name being linked to the debacle that is VBS, this has to be the lowest of the low in allegations,” he wrote. “The mere suggestion that I would accept a bribe -- 5 million rand in cash -- is abhorrent to me.”

Read Matjila’s full letter

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