Lifestyle audit showed no evidence former PIC boss Dan Matjila got R2.5m VBS loan

By Janice Kew

(Bloomberg) – A lifestyle audit of Daniel Matjila, the former head of Africa’s largest pension-fund manager, showed no evidence that he took out an irregular loan from failed South African lender VBS Mutual Bank, a commission of inquiry heard.Matjila, who is testifying before the ongoing probe into allegations of wrongdoing at the Public Investment Corp., was accused by a politician of borrowing R2.5m ($176,000) from the bank, which has been linked to various corruption scandals. Matjila has denied the allegation, evidence leader Jannie Lubbe told the inquiry on Tuesday.

The inquiry is into whether the fund, which oversees about $150bn in assets, deviated from its mission to best safeguard pensions for more than 1.2 million South African state workers. The ongoing inquiry has heard from about 70 witnesses – several of whom flagged Matjila himself as playing a key role in approving questionable deals, which he denies.

Auditors at PwC are scheduled to present their findings of the lifestyle audit, which looked at other people involved with PIC, to the inquiry next week. The commission’s forensic team will also complete an independent investigation into the allegations, Lubbe said.

PIC informed Lubbe a few weeks ago of a report by Nexus Forensic Services that said Matjila got the alleged facility. Bantu Holomisa, the leader of the United Democratic Movement party, sent an email to Lubbe on Monday over the report.

Holomisa last year called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to start an investigation into PIC and has appeared twice before the commission, asserting that various people appear to have had easy access to PIC funding based on their relationships with Matjila. In April, Holomisa conceded that he hadn’t provided the PIC probe with evidence for his claims.

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A separate investigation into the failure of VBS found that at least 53 people and companies may have benefited from the looting of R1.9bn from the lender before its collapse. Matjila’s alleged loan, flagged by Nexus, didn’t come up in this VBS report.

Lubbe also told the commission that PIC’s board scrapped a plan to present to the hearing next week.

In February, almost the entire board, including PIC chairman and South Africa’s then-Deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele, tendered their resignations after the money manager ordered a forensic probe into whether acting CEO Matshepo More and two non-executive directors had acted inappropriately. They’ve remained in their posts while Finance Minister Tito Mboweni decides on their replacements.