News / South Africa

Gosebo Mathope
3 minute read
25 Apr 2017
2:01 pm

Net1: We are clean, above board and did not commit a single transgression

Gosebo Mathope

Net1 has hit back at the media and NGOs saying they are vilifying the company despite the ConCourt having declared them beyond reproach.

CPS CEO Serge Belamant.

In a wide ranging interview following the review of its business practices, Net1 is insisting that it is beyond reproach and that the media has a smear campaign against it. The company also admits “we are doing this (employing a PR company) to show there was no wrong-doing on our part as Net1”.

The board and its chairperson Christopher Seabrooke, speaking via Burson-Marsteller SA, a PR agency, says it has already apologized for any negative comments made by its former chairperson and current CEO, Serge Belamont about government ineptitude to manage SASSA grants.

Net1 has stated that the system it provides is the most comprehensive and functional system available at present

Asked whether Net1 is willing to shoulder some responsibility around the current CPS/SASSA tender irregularities, the company responded that “CPS was found not to be responsible for any of SASSA actions. Therefore CPS has no reason to apologise”.

The company reiterated its belief that it’s the only local service provider with the capacity to handle the SASSA tender when asked if it will bid for the tender when its current extended contract lapses.
“Net1 has stated that the system it provides is the most comprehensive and functional system available at present”.

It refuted allegations that material evidence currently in the public domain allude to a symbiotic relationship between Net1 and SASSA by pointing out there was “closure of investigations by the Hawks, as well as the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, which demonstrated no evidence of wrong-doing by the company (Net1)”.

What the board seem to have conveniently omitted to elaborate on, though, is that the case was not closed on the basis of unreasonable grounds for successful prosecution. The case closed, as it was argued by Corruption Watch and other stakeholders, primarily because co-operation from South African authorities was not forthcoming.

When questioned on whether KPMG is best placed to undertake an independent review due to Net1 being one of their major clients, the company said KPMG’s reputation speaks for itself. “When the review was decided on, it was an urgent matter, it would have taken a long time for a new auditor to understand our systems and processes”.

The company emphasised that the review found no foul play in accessing clients data, sharing it with Net1 associated companies or overcharging  clients through its financial services and products.

The review is itself at odds with research conducted by Allan Gray, the second highest shareholder in Net1 with 15,6% stake. The shareholder said last week its research showed the business does not always answer its phones when called by welfare clients.

Allan Gray chief investment officer, Andrew Lapping, was quoted as saying: “It’s not illegal not to answer your phone, but it’s not good business practice. We have been trying to find out exactly how beneficiaries are treated. If you have a problem, how easy is it to get hold of them? How easy is it to cancel debit orders?”.

The investment management company also announced it will make changes to the way it makes its investments and has hired someone to investigate their social and economic impact.

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