An application brought by insurance company Old Mutual in a bid to prevent its former CEO Peter Moyo from returning to work has been dismissed with costs.
This marks Moyo’s second court victory against the company, which found that Moyo must be temporarily reinstated as CEO as his dismissal was illegal. Old Mutual should have allowed him a disciplinary hearing before accusing him of gross misconduct and firing him, the court found.
This ruling has now been upheld.
Judge Brian Mashile delivered his judgment in the High Court in Johannesburg on Friday, dismissing the insurer’s attempts to keep Moyo away until the company’s appeal of the earlier ruling is concluded.
It was found that Old Mutual had not followed proper processes when it initially suspended him on May 23 and subsequently fired him on June 18.
Old Mutual said a conflict of interest and a breakdown in trust was behind their decision to remove Moyo. The conflict of interest claim stems from the fact that Moyo owns 25% of a company he co-founded called NMT, which Old Mutual owns 20% of.
READ MORE: Old Mutual fires Peter Moyo (again)
The Old Mutual board said a breach of dividend payments by NMT was behind their decision to fire Moyo.
In what became a nasty battle between the two parties, Moyo asked the high court in Johannesburg for an order to declare the conduct of Old Mutual and its board of directors to be in contempt of court. A contempt of court offence relates to being disobedient or disrespectful towards a court of law regarding its judgments/orders.
The board of Old Mutual then launched a stinging rebuttal, saying the contempt of court application was “invasive” and had “severe” implications.
Then, on August 22, Old Mutual issued an open letter to shareholders, saying that it had given Moyo a further notice terminating his employment contract with SA’s second-largest insurer – effectively firing him again.
Their appeal of the High Court ruling that he must be reinstated is ongoing.
(Background reporting Ray Mahlaka, Moneyweb)