Net1 welcomes US probe, well 'in a way'

Listed company Net1.
Bruce Whitfield speaks to Net1 CEO Serge Belamant about the bribery claims levelled against the company & its lawsuit against Absa.

JOHANNESBURG - Technology company Net1 says it believes an investigation into its tender with the South African Social Services Agency will strengthen its lawsuit against Absa bank.

Net1 has instituted action against Absa and is suing it for around R438 million.

It claims the bank has defamed its name and is guilty of anti-competitive behaviour.

The two organisations have been at each other's throats over a tender to distribute social grants.

Absa, through its subsidiary AllPay, claims the process to award the contract to Cash Paymaster Services, an arm of Net1, was flawed.

A high court has agreed with AllPay, but Net1 has appealed the ruling. The case will be heard in February.


Net1 also faces investigations by the Securities Exchange Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation over allegations of bribery.

However, Net1 Chief Executive Officer Serge Belamant says the probes were instituted after an AllPay official flew to America to hand the Department of Justice information.

Belamant says the company is cooperating with the US authorities.

"To be quite honest, although it is extremely expensive and very disruptive, ... in a way we actually welcome it because once they've finished their investigation we'd have put this thing to bed once and for all."

He also seems to believe there could be a positive outcome for Net1's lawsuit.

"At the same time it will give us even more credibility in court in terms of us suing AllPay for damages for anti-competitive behaviour."