High court rules Old Mutual directors did not act in contempt

‘I would not be the one to say it’s the absolute end, but we do hope that this does mark that, and we will await any possible further actions taken by Mr Moyo…’ – Tabby Tsengiwe, Old Mutual.

FIFI PETERS: Well, from one story of corporate governance to another, and now we’re talking about Old Mutual. The company released a statement earlier on today, this afternoon, in which Old Mutual said that a full bench of the Gauteng local division of the High Court had dismissed, with costs, the former CEO Peter Moyo’s consolidated applications to have the Old Mutual non-executive directors declared delinquent and in contempt of court.

The statement also said that Old Mutual is pretty pleased to put this matter behind it after three years of contentious litigation and will also be focusing on growing the business well into the future with good governance at all times.

We’ve Tabby Tsengiwe, the general manager for public affairs and sustainability at Old Mutual joining the Market Update. Tabby, thanks so much for your time. How are the non-executive directors feeling about this court judgment?

TABBY TSENGIWE: Good evening, Fifi, and it’s really great to speak to you again. I think you and I have been speaking for three years on this specific case. I do want to say that it has been a long case, so naturally it’s a litigation that we have always said, as Old Mutual, we wished to have avoided. However it was Mr Moyo’s right to act in his own interest.

I’m certain that our board and the directors do feel vindicated by the judgment, and feel that this is definitely about corporate governance and a board holding a CEO to account. We are relieved that this matter is now behind us after a very long three years of litigation on the matter.

FIFI PETERS: Was there any point where any of the non-executive directors or even the company itself thought that things wouldn’t go your way?

TABBY TSENGIWE: My apologies – was there any point where we thought what?

FIFI PETERS: I was saying it has been three years, as you have stated, but was there any point in this time when you thought that things wouldn’t go your way?

TABBY TSENGIWE: We can never determine what the outcome of a court proceeding is going to be. It was in the interest of the board to continue to stick to the facts of the matter, and it was for the board to continue demonstrating that to the courts,  and leave it to the courts to decide on whether this was what corporate governance is about. We were always positive. The board was always positive that we had a strong case, and it was a case that was back based on fact, backed by the evidence that was presented before the courts. So we do feel vindicated with the outcome.

FIFI PETERS: You seem to suggest that the road is over as it pertains to this case. Is that the case as in there’s no opportunity for Mr Moyo to appeal the latest High Court decision?

TABBY TSENGIWE: I do want to say that it is our hope that this is over. We however cannot determine what Mr Moyo’s next steps would be. I would therefore not be the one to say it’s the absolute end, but we do hope that this does mark that, and we will await any possible further actions taken by Mr Moyo on this matter.

FIFI PETERS: There have been a few applications that have gone your way with costs in these three years. So how much exactly does Mr Moya owe you?

TABBY TSENGIWE: We do not know what that amount would be, because those final costs have not yet been determined by the court. We are aware that [there are] actually six in a row rulings in favour of Old Mutual if you look at all the matters that have been brought to the courts over the three-year period, so this is a sixth ruling in favour of Old Mutual.

FIFI PETERS: Then how much has Old Mutual spent in this time on all this litigation?

TABBY TSENGIWE: As I say, those costs are yet to be advised and put together by the court. So that amount is not yet known to us.

FIFI PETERS: All right. Tabby, we’ll leave it there for now. Thanks so much for availing yourself at such short notice, Tabby Tsengiwe is the general manager of public affairs and sustainability at Old Mutual.

We did reach out to Peter Moyo to comment on the latest ruling from the High Court, but he was not available to join us this evening.  Maybe another time.

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