NEF will not suspend CEO pending investigation

The National Empowerment Fund (NEF) will not suspend its chief executive Philisiwe Mthethwa and two other employees pending an investigation.

“Today, the board met to conclude the last, remaining aspect of our initial work, which was to determine whether or not to suspend the affected individuals,” it said in a statement today.

“After having taken independent legal advice, after a considered deliberation, and pending the results of Deloitte’s report on the veracity of the allegations [against the three], the board of trustees decided not to suspend any of the individuals who are the subject of the allegations.”

The board said audit firm Deloitte would conduct a forensic investigation and submit a report.

“Based on the results of that report, the board will decide whether or not further work should be conducted or if the investigation should cease,” it said.

“Over the past two weeks, the board has met to discuss and establish the framework for the investigation.”

It was reported at the weekend Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies called for a forensic investigation into Mthethwa following allegations by a purported whistleblower.

Mthethwa told the Sunday Times she could not respond to questions about the investigation as it was sub judice.

She denied reports she had been suspended or placed on special leave.

“As far as I am aware I’m still the CEO of the NEF,” Mthethwa, the wife of Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, told the newspaper.

It reported Mthethwa was put on special leave at a board meeting on Friday. The board’s chairman Thando Mhlambiso denied a decision was made to put her on special leave.

Last week, Business Day reported the fund had to write off R290 million worth of non-performing loans last year.

In July, Davies called for a report into the NEF’s R34.1m funding of upmarket boutique Luminance, in Hyde Park, Johannesburg.

In August, Mthethwa defended the decision to fund the boutique.

At the time, she was quoted as saying that the controversy around the boutique arose “perhaps because some people do not see the need for women empowerment”.

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