SAA’s R256m whistleblower wins Round 1 – Stimpel heads to CCMA

By Carin Smith

Cape Town – South African Airways (SAA) representatives have agreed to refer a case against whistleblower Cynthia Stimpel to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), according to a statement issued by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) on Tuesday.

In July SAA suspended treasurer Stimpel for misconduct as “she had acted in contravention of SAA’s code of conduct”. The airline denied its decision to suspend her had to do with media reports suggesting she had allegedly objected to SAA’s decision to award a tender to “boutique financier” BnP Capital.

SAA Treasurer Cynthia Stimpel - suspended after questioning chairman Myeni's R256m plunder attempt. Pic: Facebook
Suspended SAA Treasurer Cynthia Stimpel. Pic: Facebook

On 19 July, News24 exclusively revealed that SAA’s controversial appointment of BnP Capital was not only expensive, but also put on hold an approved banking tender to Nedbank. The report revealed that SAA’s board approved the awarding of banking services to Nedbank on May 27, for five years, at an estimated cost of R278m.

But the awarding of this contract would be on condition that the “Nedbank contract [be] deferred subject to [the] debt consolidation process finalisation”. BnP Capital was appointed to advise SAA on how to restructure its R15bn debt.

This would be done for a fee of R256m – even though Stimpel said it could be done at a fraction of the cost, according to the report. BnP Capital won the contract in March ahead of several well-established companies including Nedbank, Regiments and Deloitte & Touche.

At the time Outa claimed that SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni was among board members who voted to hire BnP without a tender.

SAA subsequently decided to terminate the services of BnP Capital as transaction adviser and its appointment to source funds on behalf of the airline.

Outa said on Tuesday representatives of SAA “capitulated at the last minute in the Labour Court” and agreed to refer the case to the CCMA.

“SAA wanted Stimpel to give an undertaking that she would not launch any further court proceedings relating to one of the charges and to pay the costs of the court application. Neither of these requests had been acceded to and the matter will now be heard by the CCMA in the near future,” said Outa.

Read also: When it looks, smells like a pig – usually is. Tale of the SAA whistleblowers.

Outa added that it has established a crowd-funded whistleblower protection programme to defend whistleblowers against any victimisation tactics that may be implemented by employers, including the state.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali told Fin24 on Tuesday evening that the best thing to do would be to exercise restraint and allow the process to run its course until the matter is finalised.

“What Outa seems to celebrate speaks nothing to the merit aspects of the matter between the parties,” said Tlali. – Fin24

Source: http://www.fin24.com/Companies/Industrial/saa-whistle-blower-heading-to-ccma-20160823

OUTA media release

South African Airways (SAA) representatives capitulated at the last moment in the labour court on Monday 22 August, after a sustained and unwavering defensive challenge by Cynthia Stimpel – SAA’s suspended Group Treasurer – supported by OUTA. They agreed to refer the case to the CCMA, where the matter will be heard by an impartial commissioner, as opposed to a SAA appointed chairperson.

SAA wanted Stimpel to give an undertaking that she would not launch any further court proceedings relating to one of the charges and to pay the costs of the court application. Neither of these requests were acceded to and the matter will now be heard by the CCMA in the near future.

Read also: Hidden costs of SAA scandals exposed: Leaked report

When an employee working for the state notices a potential criminal abuse of authority, the biggest fear the potential whistleblower faces is being caught alone in the storm after making their protected disclosure. It is for this reason that OUTA has established its whistleblower protection program.

OUTA’s program intends to defend whistleblowers against any victimisation tactics that may be implemented by the state and others, in order to muzzle those who have the courage to stand up against flagrant abuse of state funds and processes. This program seeks to protect and redress victimisation that springs from the act of whistleblowing, which we believe will encourage more active citizenry in fighting corruption and maladministration.

OUTA’s crowd-funded whistleblowing protection program supports defense efforts of individuals by strengthening the ability of compromised whistleblowers to be successfully defended, and enables cases to later be prepared against those responsible for abuses of power, in order to root corruption and maladministration of public funds.

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