Home Retirement Ex-boss must repay R280m pension after dodgy sale of Didata SA office, Japanese giant argues

Ex-boss must repay R280m pension after dodgy sale of Didata SA office, Japanese giant argues

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Dimension Data’s The Campus office in Bryanston. Photo: Google Maps

Japanese telecommunications giant NTT sued its former global chief executive officer Jason Goodall in the UK, alleging he had a secret financial interest in a Johannesburg deal that was meant to improve the Black Economic Empowerment rating of the telecoms company’s South African arm.

Goodall in 2019 approved the sale of NTT-owned Dimension Data’s sprawling headquarters in Johannesburg suburbs at “significantly less” value to a majority black women-owned fund, Identity Fund Managers, in which he had either already invested or at least had a plan in place to invest, NTT alleged in the suit. 

“Goodall and the other executives’ conduct in arranging and acquiring their interests in the Identity Fund and concealing and failing to disclose those interests amounts to gross misconduct involving dishonesty,” NTT’s lawyers said in the court filing.

Neither Goodall nor Identity Fund responded to messages left for comment. A spokesperson for NTT and Dimension Data confirmed that legal action was being taken in the UK and South Africa, declining to comment further.

Goodall’s “fraudulent misrepresentation” means he should repay the $17.6 million (worth R280 million at the end of 2021) he received as part of his retirement package in 2021, argued NTT and Dimension Data. On January 18, the UK high court’s allowed NTT to serve Goodall the court documents, initiating the formalities for the case to proceed. 

Dimension Data, South Africa’s biggest listed technology stock before a 2010 buyout by NTT, decided to sell its Johannesburg headquarters for the twin purpose of selling assets unrelated to its core business and improving its Black Economic Empowerment rating, according to NTT’s court filing. These rating are a core part of government policy to encourage sale of assets to people disadvantaged during apartheid in Africa’s most industrialized nation.

The campus was bought by Identity Fund for 1.4 billion Rand ($81 million) in 2019. The deal is now in the early stages of being unwound, NTT’s lawyers said in the suit. Dimension Data has separately sued other officials of the company for the alleged graft in South Africa.

–With assistance from Loni Prinsloo.

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