After controversial businessman and Independent Media publisher Dr Iqbal Survé’s offices in Cape Town were raided by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) on Wednesday morning, he went on a tirade against “dark forces”, blaming them for his problems.
Among those he named was Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, who on Thursday dismissed the comments through his lawyer.
The FSCA is probing a case involving Survé’s company Sekunjalo Holdings alleged irregular share trading against another of his companies, Ayo Technology Solutions.
In a statement, the FSCA said the operation was conducted as part of an investigation into allegations of prohibited trading practices (market manipulation), and possible contraventions of section 80 of the Financial Markets Act.
“The order for the search was granted by Justice Gamble of the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday, 8 October 2019. It allows the FSCA to conduct the search over two days under the supervision of an independent attorney.”
Business Report, owned by Survé, claimed the FSCA and members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) “pounced on the offices of Sekunjalo Holdings and African Equity Empowerment Investment (AEEI) without prior notice and tried to confiscate laptops and computer hard drives”.
The controversial businessman felt he was being unfairly targeted by the raid, which he called an “orchestrated campaign” against him, a “fishing expedition” and “an intimidation tactic”.
He added that he believed the raid represents a “concerted attempt by a cabal” to use state bodies in an attempt to intimidate him.
“This is a desperate attempt to stop us from publishing the truth. Ironically, it is Sekunjalo that lodged a formal complaint with the FSCA against certain well-known hedge funds and asset managers that were trying to bring down Ayo’s share price,” Survé continued.
“Instead of investigating that, the FSCA is used to intimidate us into submission.”
Survé claimed he was being targeted by powerful politicians in an attempt to silence his newspapers into not publishing stories that could damage President Cyril Ramaphosa, Gordhan, “various ministers” and others aligned to them in the ANC and government.
He further alleged that a first judge had said no to giving a warrant for the raid, while a second, an alleged “friend” of Gordhan’s, had then granted it.
In response, Gordhan’s lawyers said Survé utterances were “malicious, yet nonsensical”.
“Mr Survé has launched unsubstantiated attacks on our client without any evidence or facts. He also attacked the judiciary,” said lawyer Tebogo Malatji.
“The chief justice has invited those who make these kinds of allegations against judges to come forward with evidence to prove any impropriety on the part of judicial officers. Mr Survé is invited to produce proof of allegations he has made about the two judges, including that one refused to grant the FSCA a warrant and that another judge who granted the warrant did so because he has a relationship with our client.”
He said distraction and deflections had become a reflexive response by those who were under suspicion of “one or other kind of misdemeanour”.
Malatji pointed out that Gordhan has no oversight over the FSCA and could not possibly have directed its operations, “including on whom the FSCA must conduct inspections”.
“What the South African public knows is that Mr Survé and his business entities have been the subject of the Mpati Commission of Inquiry. The attempt at deflecting attention from this, by making false and defamatory allegations against Minister Gordhan and others, will not assist him and others in being held accountable for possible transgressions of the law.
“The focus of [Gordhan] will steadfastly remain to stabilise the key institutions of the state that have been severely damaged by state capture and corruption. These are state-owned companies that provide electricity to our people and businesses, rail and port facilities to commercial traders and key economic infrastructure to our country.”
Malatji said Gordhan would not be distracted from this important mandate, notwithstanding the “fightback” campaign.
Dr Survè, on FSCA raiding his office:
It's Pravin behind this
You went to 1st Judge, said no. 2nd Judge is Pravin & DA's friend
You're not taking my PA's laptop there's privileged info
It's fishing to get info we have on Pravin, Cyril. My reporters are to publish this weekend pic.twitter.com/pi3py3jDbu
— Izwe Lethu (@LandNoli) October 9, 2019
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers. Background reporting, Daniel Friedman)