July 25, 2018 / 3:25 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa orders probe into $150 bln state pension fund -treasury

(Updates with context)

JOHANNESBURG, July 25 (Reuters) - South Africa’s finance minister on Wednesday ordered an independent inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), the state pension manager, following corruption allegations involving senior executives.

This month the PIC, Africa’s largest fund with over $150 billion assets under management, allowed its executive head for governance and compliance to resign with immediate effect over wrongdoing linked to the collapse of the politically connected VBS Mutual Bank.

Another executive was fired earlier this year over his role in the matter.

The curator who the central bank appointed for VBS said in an affidavit that an unnamed PIC executive had taken a 5 million rand ($379,000) bribe to facilitate a 350 million rand payment to the bank.

“The directive by the Minister to the board of the PIC is to commission a proper forensic investigation into the allegations against certain PIC executives,” the National Treasury said in a statement.

Details on the independent inquiry and its terms of reference would be announced at a later date.

The chief executive of the PIC, Dan Matjila, was cleared of wrongdoing by an internal probe last year, but has this year faced calls from an opposition party that he be investigated for allegations of misuse of funds and careless investment decisions.

The PIC is the biggest investor in South Africa’s economy, holding a large volume of bonds issued by government and state-owned firms, as well as stakes in blue-chip companies such as miner Anglo American, lender Barclays Africa and grocer-retailer Shoprite. ($1 = 13.1841 rand) (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by James Macharia and Kevin Liffey)

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