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By Liesl Peyper, Fin24
Cape Town – The Financial Services Board’s (FSB) department of market abuse (DMA) found no insider trading activity ahead of the recall of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan from an international investor roadshow in March.
The DMA concluded that the trades under investigation in the Currency Futures Contracts prior to the news of Gordhan’s recall were “undertaken in the normal course of business”, it said in a statement issued on Monday.
“Investors who at the time traded had no prior knowledge that Mr Gordhan would be recalled from the roadshow,” the DMA said.
The DMA is a committee of the FSB and is mandated to investigate, and in appropriate instances, take enforcement action in cases of market abuse on the financial markets.
David Maynier, Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesperson on finance who had referred the matter to the FSB requesting an investigation, said in response to the FSB’s findings he is pleased that the investigation is completed and that the matter has been put to rest.
On March 31, Maynier sent a letter to the FSB requesting an investigation into possible insider trading linked to the recall of Gordhan and his subsequent dismissal.
Advocate Dube Tshidi, the chief executive officer of the FSB, replied on 03 April 2017 that he had instructed head of enforcement, Gerhard van Deventer, to look into the matter.
The JSE also announced in a press statement that it was reviewing the trading in affected securities prior to the news of the recall of Gordhan from the London roadshow, as the news precipitated material moves in the value of numerous listed securities, including currency futures.
Maynier at the time said there was widespread concern there may have been insider trading, and there was some circumstantial evidence to suggest it had indeed been the case and that it may have materially benefited someone with prior knowledge of Gordhan’s recall and dismissal.
He was referring to analysis done by Intellidex’s Stuart Theobald, who in a blog post on his website queried the drastic moves in the rand at the time of Gordhan’s recall on March 27 2017.
“Could one profit if you knew of such an event in advance,” Fin24 quoted him as saying. “The answer is clearly yes. One simple way to do so would be to buy those futures on the JSE.”
Theobald calculated a person earning R42m in two days, assuming “that the contracts were opened before the Gordhan news broke”.
“There is circumstantial evidence supporting the view that it was before the news,” he said.
Gordhan’s abrupt recall from the investor roadshow on March 27 was followed by an overnight Cabinet reshuffle four days later when President Jacob Zuma replaced him with former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba.
On the day following the dismissal of Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas, the rand lost more than 50c of its value and continued its declining trajectory for six days, reaching R13.90 against the dollar.