The purchase by Telkom group chief financial officer Jacques Schindehütte of R6m worth of Telkom shares on 30 September had nothing to do with the operator’s board’s decision to suspend him on Thursday pending the outcome a disciplinary process.
Rather, the board decided to suspend finance head because of allegations of “personal misconduct” levelled against him through a whistle-blower. Neither Telkom nor Schindehütte are disclosing the exact nature of the allegations.
Speculation has centred on Schindehütte’s share trade last month, which came just one day before Telkom went into a closed period ahead of publication of its interim results in November. The trade took place 10 days before Telkom issued a trading update that led to a sharp rise in the value of its shares.
Schindehütte told TechCentral on Thursday that he had the approval of both Telkom group CEO Sipho Maseko and chairman Jabu Mabuza to buy the shares and also would not have traded if he believed he had access to market-sensitive information that had not been disclosed.
He also said that he had been given the opportunity to resign, but had declined to do so as that would not have been congruent with his “value system”.
“Telkom confirms that there is no connection whatsoever between the suspension of Mr Schindehütte and the insider trading inquiry instituted by the JSE in relation to Mr Schindehütte’s trade in Telkom shares on 30 September,” Telkom said in a statement on Friday.
“Telkom further confirms that the suspension has no connection with and will not have an impact on the financial performance of the company.”
Telkom said the board initiated a process, which involved an investigation by an external law firm, before suspending Schindehütte. “As part of the process, Mr Schindehütte was given an opportunity to respond to the allegations. The findings of the external law firm as well as its recommendations were presented to the board and these were carefully considered. The decision to suspend Mr Schindehütte was taken after obtaining legal advice.”
Telkom said that Schindehütte was served with a letter of suspension in which it “clearly sets out the allegations levelled against him and to which he is required to respond”.
“The disciplinary hearing will proceed as soon as possible. Stakeholders will be informed of the outcome of the disciplinary hearing once the board has had time to consider the findings. The board re-iterates its commitment to a fair process, conducted without favour or prejudice.” — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media
- See also: Telkom’s Schindehütte speaks out