You will know by now that recently the Minister of Trade and Industry, the Honourable Dr. Rob Davies, asked the Board of Trustees of the NEF to initiate an independent investigation into allegations of wrongdoing brought by an anonymous whistle-blower against the CEO and two other employees of the NEF.
In accordance with the Minister’s request, and as required by the PFMA, the Board has asked audit firm Deloitte to determine the veracity of the allegations and to submit a report on its assessment to the Board. Based on the results of that report, the Board will decide whether or not further work should be conducted or if the investigation should cease.
Over the past two weeks, the Board has met to discuss and establish the framework for the investigation. Today, the Board met to conclude the last, remaining aspect of our initial work, which was to determine whether or not to suspend the affected individuals.
After having taken independent legal advice, after a considered deliberation, and pending the results of Deloitte’s report on the veracity of the allegations, the Board of Trustees decided not to suspend any of the individuals who are the subject of the allegations.
The Board is uncompromising in its commitment to fulfil our fiduciary duties and legal obligations under the law, to protect the integrity of the investigation, and to safeguard the reputations of NEF staff and of the organisation while Deloitte conducts its work. Key tenets of Deloitte’s process are that it is to be independent, impartial and thorough, and that it be conducted as expeditiously as possible (without sacrificing quality) and with confidentiality. We are confident that no member of the NEF will do anything to compromise the integrity of the investigation, and have received commitments from the affected individuals to that effect.
It’s very important to understand that the NEF is an institution that abides by the law. The authorization of transactions and the release of funds typically pass several layers of decision-making, including by individuals and institutions both within and outside the NEF. In addition, we conduct robust checks and balances involving internal risk, internal audit, the post-investment and legal teams, finance, the board investment, audit and risk committees (each of which include experienced, independent professionals) and external, highly regarded audit firms that review all of these activities for compliance with corporate governance, conflicts of interest and internal control laws and policies. To be sure, since our inception, the NEF has received unqualified audit opinions from PwC and SizweNtsalubaGobodo.
Nonetheless, we will wait for Deloitte’s report to determine if, despite our systems, breaches of corporate governance and/or of our internal controls occurred in these instances.
Issued on behalf of the NEF Board of Trustees