Dimension Data has filed papers at the high court in Johannesburg against several former top executives, including company co-founder Jeremy Ord, over the transaction involving the sale of its head office, The Campus, in Johannesburg three years ago.
TechCentral broke the news last January that several former executives at Dimension Data had become embroiled in a fraud scandal following a forensic probe into the December 2019 sale of the iconic head office facility in Johannesburg’s leafy Bryanston suburb.
The investigation came after Dimension Data parent NTT Ltd, which is owned by Japan’s NTT Group, appointed international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills to conduct a forensic investigation into allegations brought forward by a whistle-blower.
TechCentral did not name the executives at the time as Dimension Data would not confirm who they were. However, the company – while still somewhat cagey about the extent of the actions it is taking against the individuals – has now confirmed the names, along with several other parties it’s pursuing over the sale transaction.
This publication can now reveal that the former Dimension Data executives are:
- Jeremy Ord, who until mid-2021 served as Dimension Data’s executive chairman;
- Jason Goodall, a former Dimension Data CEO who later took the reins at NTT Ltd;
- Grant Bodley, who served as Dimension Data Middle East & Africa CEO until March 2021;
- Steven Nathan, Dimension Data’s former head of corporate finance, who resigned in mid-2021;
- Saki Missaikos, a former MD of Dimension Data’s Internet Solutions who was group head of strategy prior to his exit, also in mid-2021;
- Bruce “Doc” Watson, a Dimension Data stalwart who left around the same time.
Responding to queries, Bodley, speaking on behalf of all six executives, said: “The allegations against us lack merit and are denied. We look forward to presenting our defence to the allegations in court.”
Dimension Data told TechCentral it is also pursuing legal action against Identity Fund Managers, the black women-led consortium that bought The Campus.
Dimension Data on Tuesday said it was pursuing “legal and court proceedings” over behaviour it said was “in breach of the law and company policy”.
“An extensive investigation has been undertaken regarding the sale of Dimension Data’s Campus property in Johannesburg … revealing that certain former senior executives … did not disclose their personal financial interest in the transaction and wrongfully induced the conclusion of the transaction,” it said.
“This is in breach of the law and company policy. Evidence points to the former executives having defrauded Dimension Data. In addition, the investigation revealed that the purchaser of The Campus paid a secret commission to one of these former executives,” it added, without naming the former executive or divulging the sum involved.
“NTT Ltd and Dimension Data place ethical leadership and governance at the heart of their business and will not tolerate any such violations at any level of the organisation,” it added. The company declined to entertain further questions from TechCentral, including about whether it has filed criminal charges against any of the parties it is pursuing in court.
A big risk for Dimension Data is that the complex transaction to sell its head office, which involved a black economic empowerment component, could be reversed, in the process affecting its BEE rating and its ability to attract clients as a result.
An anonymous source told TechCentral last January that e-mails uncovered by Herbert Smith Freehills showed how the “implicated executives conspired to sell The Campus” to Identity PropCo, a black women-owned firm led by businesswoman Sonja De Bruyn, at a “price well below its market value. Simultaneously, the implicated executives secured their participation in a separate but related entity that would see them profit handsomely from the undervalued sale of The Campus. Simply put, this amounted to the defrauding of the ultimate owner of The Campus, that being Dimension Data’s parent company, NTT.”
However, De Bruyn on Tuesday said there is no suggestion in the court papers that the sale of The Campus was below market value. “In fact, the papers reference another offer made for the property that was below the value paid by Identity Fund Managers.”
She said, too, that entities associated with Identity Fund Managers exited The Campus transaction on 1 November 2022 and that it is “unfortunate” that NTT and Dimension Data “continue to mention us in the manner they do”. – © 2023 NewsCentral Media
- For a detailed explanation of the mechanics of the sale of the Campus, refer to the section “The background” under TechCentral’s original report on this story from January 2022.
- A previous version of this article stated that Dimension Data had filed papers against Identity Fund Managers’ Sonja De Bruyn and Janice Johnston. In fact, Identity Fund Managers is listed as a respondent, not the individuals. The error is regretted.