PHUMELELA’s Business Practitioner John Evans has invited the company’s employees to come forward with information pertaining to possible fraudulent activities (of management and staff) they may have been aware of in their periods of employment.
In an electronic meeting convened with the use of Zoom technology on Thursday, Evans said: “My key role is to investigate the affairs of the company, to see if there was reckless trading and fraudulent activities.
“I’ve had two weeks here as business practitioner and I am not yet complete, but so far there have been no signs of suspect activities on the part of company directors.”
Evans said that any information received will be treated in the strictest of confidence, and that those in possession of the information will be protected.
“We have lots of information to take in during the process of business rescue. I have taken control of the company’s accounts and we are required to furnish a rescue plan on 15 June, just more than three weeks away. Andrew (Langham), Patrick (Davis) and Dean (Sawarjith) are working hard to ensure everything is in place.”
Evans said that a Chief Restructuring Officer may have to be appointed during the rescue process to assist his team with the investigations and the work they are required to do. This will be an interim measure but may lead to a permanent appointment.
After 15 June there will be a meeting of creditors to ensure that they adopt the recommended rescue plan, and there is a possibility of an extension (to make amendments).
“We will be having our first meeting with creditors on Friday (22 May), to give them updates on our progress and our rescue plan,” added Evans.
He stressed that employees of Phumelela are highly ranked as creditors of the business, and that their contracts remain in place.
“We have to contain costs very carefully as the lockdown eases. As business practitioner I have come into an uncertain process with the best intentions. Some non-core assets of the business may have to be sold, and certain employees will be transferred along with those businesses.”
The government’s stalling on giving racing permission to resume is hugely concerning for all and Evans said: “There is little indication of when racing will happen or when our retail outlets will be allowed to open. The possibility of a good rescue depends on Post Commencement Funding and the support of suppliers, business partners and employees.
“I must say that we have had overwhelming support so far and I’d like to make a statement and say that, based on information acquired to date, there is a reasonable prospect that Phumelela can be rescued.”
Evans said that queries and information can be addressed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org and that he or an associate will be responding in
writing, in due course. Employees will be kept informed thoroughly during the rescue process.
He did advise too, that employees wishing to form an employees’ committee should address their suggestions to HR manager Simphiwe Bodigelo on email@example.com
Evans ended the first session of the electronic meeting with encouraging words: “I am hopeful that we can drive the company into a successful and prosperous future.”