8 November 2018

Namibia: 'Blatant Lies' ... Telecom Chair Denies Pushing for Board Fee Hikes

Telecom board chairperson Irene Simeon-Kurtz said claims that she wanted board fee increases are "blatant lies".

The Namibian reported yesterday that Telecom Namibia's suspended head of legal services, Jinah Buys, who doubles up as the company secretary, accused Simeon-Kurtz of putting her under pressure to increase board fees.

Telecom's board chairperson said those allegations are "blatant lies" because the company secretary does not approve board fees.

"Ms Jinah Buys does not approve fee structures. She is incorrect in saying she refused to approve new board fees," Simeon-Kurtz said.

According to her, Buys' failure as a compliance officer and hiding the Canocopy matter from the board resulted in her suspension for an ongoing investigation into a fake N$12 million contract.

"As custodian of corporate governance and being intimately aware of board discussions, it can be well asked what the company secretary's role in preventing unlawful transactions is? A company secretary failing in her duties can tarnish the image of the company and that of the board," Simeon-Kurtz stated.

She added that the Canocopy case is being thoroughly investigated, and one of the persons who had to give answers is the company secretary.

"Telecom Namibia did not follow the required policies and procedures in the Canocopy matter. The company secretary should have been aware of these developments as the custodian of corporate governance within Telecom," Simeon-Kurtz continued.

She said the investigation would correct serious shortcomings at the parastatal.

Buys is one of the three officials suspended by Telecom for making 16 monthly payments towards a N$12 million contract that turned out to be fake.

Buys, through her lawyer Saima Nambinga from Lorentz Angula, said in a 24 October 2018 letter that she was suspended because she refused to approve new board fees, as requested by the company's board of directors.

"Threats against our client have continued unabated until our client was suspended, and it is in fact because our client lodged a grievance as well as took a position concerning board fees, which resulted in the board making an unjustifiable position against our client concerning the Canocopy matter," lawyer Nambinga wrote.

She insisted that Buys "did not have any part in the transaction".

- shinovene@namibian.com.na

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