Jardine: Collusion scandal was painful

Roger Jardine earlier announced his resignation, shortly after emerging from the construction sector scandal.

Construction boss Roger Jardine announced his resignation on Wednesday, shortly after emerging from the construction sector scandal.

JOHANNESBURG - Outgoing Aveng CEO Roger Jardine on Wednesday described enduring the collusion scandal as a lonely and painful experience.

Jardine announced earlier in the day that he would be stepping down after five years at the helm of a group that employs more than 30,000 people.

His resignation will take effect at the end of the month.

Speaking to Bruce Whitfield of 567 CapeTalk/Talk Radio 702's The Money Show, Jardine said while the collusion began before he joined in 2008, he felt an obligation to deal with the consequences fully.

"I decided, as the chief executive, I needed to see through the Competition Commission investigation and it was a very lonely and painful experience because all of these issues happened before I got there. I didn't up and leave when this came to my attention; I actually stayed for five years to clear this matter."

Jardine says the collusion in the construction industry goes to the very heart of where South Africa is as a country, and he was taken aback by how deep it ran.

"It's been quite staggering, as I got to the nitty-gritty of this investigation and the detail, just to see how deep this behaviour was running through the industry."

Jardine earlier said it is an appropriate time to step down as the commission's investigation is completed and the settlement agreement confirmed by the competition tribunal last month will provide a fresh platform to move forward.

He said the investigation process has been very taxing personally as he has had to deal with matters that occurred before his appointment and of which he had no personal knowledge of.

The board has announced that Financial Director Kobus Verster will assume the role of acting CEO from 1 September.

It said the nominations committee of the board will begin the process of finding a replacement.

COLLUSION

Last month, the Competition Tribunal wrapped up a two-day hearing and started assessing the R1.4 billion settlement agreement reached by 15 firms and the Competition Commission.

The commission's original probe uncovered widespread anti-competitive behaviour in the industry, including tender-rigging in projects worth more than R47 billion.

The projects included the construction of the 2010 FIFA World Cup stadiums, the Gautrain, hospitals, dams and bridges, and upgrades to airports and highways.

The tribunal dealt with each of the 15 companies' agreements individually, raising questions about whether guilty directors were punished.