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Matjila taken to task over PIC investment in Steinhoff

In 2016, the PIC loaned a company called Lancaster Investment nearly R10 billion to buy additional shares in Steinhoff, the company later collapsed.

Former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) CEO Dan Matjila appearing at the commission of inquiry into the PIC. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

PRETORIA - Former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) chief executive Dr Dan Matjila said he took full responsibility for the corporation’s losses in retail company Steinhoff but said almost all investors were duped by the company.

Matjila was addressing details surrounding the PIC’s questionable investments on Tuesday at the commission of inquiry which was chaired by retired Judge Lex Mpati.

In 2016, the PIC loaned a company called Lancaster Investment nearly R10 billion to buy additional shares in Steinhoff, the company later collapsed as allegations of accounting fraud emerged.

Matjila said purchasing shares in Steinhoff through Lancaster was to advance the BEE status of the company, but commissioner Gill Marcus questioned this.

“Did you say to allow BEE to come in? But one individual is not a BEE deal,” Marcus asked him.

He explained that the Lancaster board was mandated to ensure the BEE status was broadened.

“In essence what you’re saying is that your confidence in one individual to make that kind of impact [for] transformation and represent the PIC with that extra governance weight, warranted the time and the question of R9.4 billion in that individual?” Marcus asked.

“Because we expected the BEE to be broadened over time, that was the idea,” Matjila responded.

The commission was expected to hear details about the VBS Mutual Bank collapse on Wednesday.