Suspended South African Pension Fund Head Calls for Transparency

John Oliphant, suspended as head of South Africa’s 1.2 trillion-rand ($114 billion) Government Employees Pension Fund, said he wanted an independent report on the matter to be made public in the interests of transparency.

Arthur Moloto, former chairman of the GEPF, Africa’s biggest pension fund, suspended Oliphant after receiving the report by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP last September. Oliphant breached GEPF policy by approving an increase in the fee for an advertising contract to Johannesburg-based agency Mother Russia to 2 million rand from 531,555 rand, according to the PwC report, obtained by Bloomberg News.

“An amicable resolution of the dispute should include making public the PwC report, the initial charge sheet, the amended charge sheet and my response to the charges,” Oliphant said in an e-mailed statement today. “While an amicable resolution still eludes us, we are perplexed now that the report has been leaked. Transparency is important, the GEPF is a public-interest institution.”

More than 1.5 million South Africans have retirement funds in the GEPF and the organization is the single-biggest investor in Johannesburg’s stock exchange. Oliphant’s disciplinary hearing is due to start tomorrow and is scheduled to run until April 25. Oliphant has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Joelene Moodley, acting principal executive officer of GEPF, and Emmanuel Lekgau, head of the governance and legal committee, did not immediately respond to two sets of e-mailed questions today. Calls to the GEPF’s offices weren’t answered. A call to the Johannesburg offices of Mother Russia wasn’t answered after regular business hours.

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