Old Mutual stands by Manuel despite Moyo legal fees claims

In June, Old Mutual said it fired Peter Moyo for conflict of interest but his lawyer Eric Mabuza denied this.

FILE: Trevor Manuel. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Old Mutual has now played open cards after first saying claims that it paid legal fees for board chair Trevor Manuel were rumours and innuendos.

In an open letter to shareholders about firing CEO Peter Moyo for a second time, the insurer revealed who it paid legal fees for, but decided it wasn’t necessary to disclose them to the public.

The letter makes it clear the insurer stands by Manuel even though he and Moyo were accusing each other of conflict of interest.

In June, Old Mutual said it fired Moyo for conflict of interest but his lawyer Eric Mabuza denied this.

“Mr Moyo raised the issue of Old Mutual paying legal fees for the chairman,” Mabuza said at the time.

Eyewitness News asked Old Mutual if this was true, but chief communications officer Tabby Tsengiwe replied saying “Old Mutual does not respond to rumours and innuendos”.

However, Thursday’s open letter detailed how the board decided to pay legal fees for what it called a matter related to Manuel’s security breach, as well as untrue allegations that undermined the independence of one of the group’s asset managers.

The board said it decided that the expenses were incurred to protect the brand and that no separate disclosure was required as they were approved by the board, including Moyo, and contained in the financial statements.

Old Mutual said it would not engage the media on this issue, but maintained the only way was for Moyo to go.