Reminder from whistleblower Nic Frangos: the fish rots from the head

It’s a decade and a half since then chairman of Corpcapital, Nic Frangos, blew the whistle over “accounting irregularities” at the JSE’s high-flying business. Frangos’s courage lost him his job – and some lifelong friends. But by sparking the Corpcapital demise, he also earned the respect of many.

I’ve kept in touch with Nic and yesterday asked for his insights into the evolving Steinhoff scandal. He didn’t want to comment specifically, but in broad terms says for him it’s simple: the fish always rots from the head. In both state and “corporate” capture Frangos reckons the problem lies with the integrity of the person at the top.

Referring to the commission on corporate governance chaired by his long-time friend Mervyn King, Frangos reckons: “If you have a CEO with no integrity, King Ten wouldn’t suffice. On the other hand, for someone with the integrity of an Adrian Gore (CEO of Discovery), even King One isn’t required.”

The Corpcapital whistleblower says investors pay far too little attention to the integrity of CEOs, just like many voters have been overlooking the values of those they make head of state. Time for a reboot. In both areas.