25 March 2023 | 12:42 PM

What do you know about the PIC’s investments?

AmaBhungane has done a number of investigations into the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and the hundreds of billions that it invests on behalf of government employees and pensioners.

In 2014, we exposed how R3-billion of pensioners’ money was handed to Kase Lawal, a Nigerian businessman closely linked to then-President Jacob Zuma, for a questionable investment in a Nigerian oil field.

Read our 2014 reports here and here

Last year, we exposed how the same oil deal went south, potentially taking with it the PIC’s R4-billion investment.

Read our latest report

But this is not the only digging we have been doing at the PIC. We are particularly interested in the PIC’s investments in unlisted assets, i.e. companies that are not listed on a stock exchange and are not required to be transparent about how the money is used.

Unlisted assets pdf

In particular we are interested in the hundreds of millions of rands paid out on “transaction costs”. These fees could be paid to lawyers and corporate advisors, but there are also allegations of these fees being funneled to politically-connected fixers.

For example: In 2016, the PIC provided R9.4-billion to a company called Lancaster 101 to buy a B-BBEE stake in retailer Steinhoff. The PIC reluctantly confirmed that R9-billion was spent buying the Steinhoff shares but refused to say what happened to the other R400-million, saying: “I think we’ve disclosed what we want to disclose.”

From a leaked internal PIC document we know that R50-million was spent to “capitalise” Lancaster, but no one involved will disclose who received the remaining R350-million. To put that into perspective, the Steinhoff shares bought with R9-billion of pensioner’s money are now (as of 1 August 2018) worth less than the amount paid out in “transaction costs” on this deal.

If you have any information about the PIC’s investments and who benefits from the millions spent on “transaction costs” every year, we would love to hear from you.

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Aisha Abdool Karim

Aisha is a freelance science and health reporter. She is joining the amaB team to work on a project about water and sanitation. Aisha’s passion for long-form narrative and investigative journalism was sparked while doing her master’s degree at Columbia University in New York. After graduating in 2018, she returned to South Africa and began working as a general beat reporter for the Daily Maverick. Aisha joined the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism in 2020 to focus on science reporting. During her time there, she covered the COVID-19 pandemic extensively — from fact-checking harmful medical misinformation to unpacking the science behind vaccine development. Aisha’s special interests include analysing health systems and in-depth coverage of public health issues and infectious diseases. She also loves spreadsheets and digging through data.

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