Telkom’s chairman, Jabu Mabuza, has used the telecommunications operator’s annual general meeting to defend the board’s handling of the suspension and exit of its former chief financial officer Jacques Schindehütte.
Schindehütte retired from the group’s board earlier this month and stepped down as its chief financial officer. Telkom agreed to pay him his full retirement benefits and to discontinue disciplinary proceedings against him.
The executive was suspended last year, but no reasons were provided for the decision. Schindehütte has consistently denied that a R6m loan granted to him by the company, which he used to buy shares in the telecommunications operator, was behind the decision.
At Wednesday’s AGM, Mabuza said Telkom had been presented with an independent forensic audit report that implicated Schindehütte and that the board would have been remiss if it hadn’t acted on this.
“Due process was followed, albeit lengthy, [and it] was also independent,” Mabuza said. “In the end, the CFO decided to opt for retirement when he reached 55 as it is provided for in the Telkom policy and his contract of employment. Up until the age of 54, any employee may ask for early retirement with permission and consent of the company.”
He said that “after careful consideration”, the board accepted Schindehütte’s request to retire. This was done to allow Telkom’s leadership team, under CEO Sipho Maseko, to “focus on the business of the day”.
“This is our core commercial objective, so to the extent this was going to free our CEO and executive team to do other things, we felt it was commercially the most sensible thing to do to close this matter. That is the story of the departure of our CFO. It had nothing to do with share trading, nothing to do with anything else, that’s what happened.”
Before joining Telkom, Schindehütte was chief financial officer at Absa. — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media