Action against Ben la Grange must be the norm, not the exception

By Joe Kleinhans

There is an important principle locked up in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s (JSE) action against the former Chief Financial Officer of Steinhoff, Ben la Grange. He was fined R2 million and denied directorships for ten years because he did not do enough to determine whether an invoice was fake or not. With that, it is said that executives must account for ill-considered and harmful investment decisions and actions.

It’s appropriate punitive action but don’t be the exception. It must be constantly and scrupulously applied in all economic fields. It is key to fighting corruption.

The Public Investment Corporation (PIC), for example, manages assets of around R2000 billion for the public service pension fund (GEPF). Judge Lex Mpati found that there were flagrant irregularities in the investment choices exercised by the PIC, which included nepotism, political interference and the unjust enrichment of individuals. Among other things, the commission recommended that all the transactions between the PIC and SurvĂ©’s Sekunjalo group of companies be forensically investigated.

But nothing happens, no one has been held accountable yet. There are other examples, many culprits. Anyone who turns a blind eye to persecution is equally guilty. Culprits must be turned into a Ben la Grange as soon as possible. This is if South Africa and its political and economic leadership structures are serious about eradicating corruption.

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