Old Mutual legal stand-off with CEO drags on
Confusion clouds the stand-off between Old Mutual and its unwanted CEO Peter Moyo, observes Legalbrief. The company claims he has to stay at home while it appeals the judgment that reinstated him. However, his lawyer was adamant he could return to work.
A Business Day report says the confusion is likely to increase volatility at its head office. Moyo reported for work yesterday morning, but was not permitted to do any work because of the appeal, Old Mutual spokesperson Tabby Tsengiwe said.
‘Mr Moyo is neither required nor permitted to report for work because the court judgment has been suspended as a result of our application to appeal,’ Tsengiwe said.
However, Moyo’s lawyer, Eric Mabuza, said Old Mutual was wrong and the only way the court order, which was an interim ruling, could be suspended was if the insurer lodged an application with the court asking for it to be suspended.
‘We spent the whole day trying to explain to them that they are wrong,’ Mabuza said.
‘It is quite regrettable that a company like Old Mutual really put themselves in that position.’
Asked whether Moyo would try to report for work again today, Mabuza said ‘he will assert his rights’.
On Tuesday, the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) ordered Old Mutual to temporarily reinstate Moyo, who was fired on 18 June after a short suspension, due to a breakdown in trust between him and the board as a result of a conflict of interest linked to NMT‚ a company co-founded by Moyo and in which Old Mutual has shares.
Old Mutual filed its urgent application to appeal the High Court decision yesterday morning. The company argues that Moyo’s application was ‘ill-conceived, contained a number of false allegations, and should have been dismissed’, says a Mail & Guardian report.
Moyo and Mabuza spent hours in discussion with Old Mutual’s lawyers yesterday, but the parties failed to agree on the interpretation of the court order.
‘I was back (at work) as directed by the court. Old Mutual doesn’t believe I should and I actually think that is in direct contempt of court. The board is clearly in contempt,’ Moyo said as he left the building later in the day.
Following the breakdown of talks, Mabuza said that Old Mutual requested both parties bring in their senior counsel in order to break the impasse.
‘Our senior counsel was ready to come here and they (Old Mutual) later told us that their senior counsel is not available. Hopefully the discussions between the counsel will continue,’ he said.
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