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PIC audit processes nothing but a show, inquiry hears

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Internal investigations at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) came to nought amid significant breaches and officials from the Auditor General were treated with contempt, according to evidence delivered at the inquiry chaired by Justice Lex Mpati looking into allegations of impropriety at the PIC.

Fin24 reports that PIC development manager Alvin Schiel spoke of a pervasive culture of fear and victimisation within the State-owned asset manager, including the purging of those who fell out of favour with executive management.

“Despite many knowing of many questionable deals or breaches of policy, audits never seemed to flag significant issues,” said Schiel in his affidavit.

He said auditors from the Auditor General’s office were “treated with contempt and in most cases sent packing in no uncertain terms”.

Witnesses who have come before the inquiry have complained of both victimisation and favouritism, including what they described as unfair allocation of bonuses.

Schiel, who has been found guilty on two charges of misconduct, said disciplinary charges were still being instituted against employees, despite the ongoing independent inquiry into the PIC’s affairs.

He said a disciplinary process concluded on Tuesday found him guilty on two charges relating to the leasing of news offices for the Government Employees’ Pension Fund (GEPF) two years ago.

He stated that the process was being driven by executives who themselves have allegations of corruption to answer to.

“While this very commission is doing its work, the organisation continues to deal with whomever they see fit,” he said.

Schiel did not name the officials driving the disciplinary processes. Under normal circumstances, the acting chief executive officer and head of human resources would be involved.

Schiel is not the first employee who has been suspended since the start of the inquiry in January.

Two other officials, Fidelis Madavo and Victor Seanie, were placed on suspension ahead of their appearance before the inquiry, following an internal audit into the controversial AYO Technology Solutions deal.

According witnesses appearing before the inquiry, the investment was conducted without following due processes.