The Gauteng Local Division of the High Court has ruled that former Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo failed to produce any evidence on which it could be held that Old Mutual did anything wrongful in connection with the termination of his employment in June 2019.
The court went so far as to grant Old Mutual, as well as its non-executive directors who were cited as defendants, absolution from the instance. Old Mutual said in a statement this absolution meant there was no need for it to call any witnesses to testify in opposition to Moyo’s claims.
Not only were Moyo’s claims dismissed after the court listened to his version of the events, it held him liable for the legal costs too.
Moyo has been advocating that Old Mutual acted unlawfully by terminating his employment after the insurance company found that there was a breach of an agreement to manage the conflict of interest in respect of the payment of dividends from NMT Capital – a firm founded by Moyo and in which Old Mutual holds an interest.
Moyo claimed reinstatement and damages in an amount of R230 million. In addition, he claimed damages in an amount of R20 million on the basis that statements made on behalf of Old Mutual in relation to the termination of his employment allegedly insulted him and violated his dignity, according to Old Mutual’s interpretation of the claim.
“During the course of the hearing over the last two weeks, Mr Moyo abandoned his claim for reinstatement, but persisted with his damages claims,” Old Mutual said in an announceent on Monday afternoon.
“Specifically, the Court found that, before the termination of Mr Moyo’s contract, he had ample opportunity to put his side of the story. The Court found that no damages flowed from the suspension of his employment.
“On termination, it found that Old Mutual correctly applied clause 24.1.1 of the employment contract, which allowed either Old Mutual or Mr Moyo to terminate the contract on six months’ notice. The Court said it agreed with and was bound by similar findings made by a Full Bench of the High Court in January 2020, which also found Old Mutual had acted lawfully in terminating Mr Moyo’s contract,” said the insurer.
Moyo ‘direct, forceful and combative’
“The Court found no evidence to support Mr Moyo’s claim for loss of dignity. It found instead that, in the public spat that followed the termination of his employment, it was Mr Moyo who was ‘direct, forceful and combative’.
“By contrast, in an interview with CNBC, Old Mutual was found to have spoken ‘lawfully, reasonably and fairly’,” according to Old Mutual.
It said the latest judgment adds to numerous judgements since Moyo’s original application for reinstatement in July 2019, which all found that Old Mutual acted lawfully in terminating Moyo’s contract.
Old Mutual was confident of a court win, as was evident when it published a discussion document about the case a few weeks ago.
The document explained the nature of the conflict of interest that existed between Moyo’s role as CEO of Old Mutual and his role as director of NMT Capital.
Old Mutual notes that the judgement in Moyo’s application to have the Old Mutual non-executive directors declared delinquent and to be in contempt of court is still pending.