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