NTT sued its former global chief executive officer Jason Goodall in the UK, alleging he had a secret financial interest in a Johannesburg deal that was meant to improve the Black Economic Empowerment rating of the telecoms company’s South African arm.
Goodall, in 2019, approved the sale of NTT-owned Dimension Data’s sprawling headquarters in Johannesburg suburbs at “significantly less” value to a majority black women-owned fund, Identity Fund Managers, in which he had either already invested or at least had a plan in place to invest, NTT alleged in the suit.
“Goodall and the other executives’ conduct in arranging and acquiring their interests in the Identity Fund and concealing and failing to disclose those interests amounts to gross misconduct involving dishonesty,” NTT’s lawyers said in the court filing.
Goodall didn’t responded to messages left for comment. Identity Fund was unaware that there was a case taking place in the UK, it said in an emailed statement.
The fund, however, denied any wrongdoing and said the allegations by Dimension Data in South Africa were based on hearsay and are “defamatory distortion.”
A spokesperson for NTT and Dimension Data confirmed that legal action was being taken in the UK and South Africa, declining to comment further.
Goodall’s “fraudulent misrepresentation” means he should repay the $17.6 million he received as part of his retirement package in 2021, argued NTT and Dimension Data.
On January 18, the UK high court’s allowed NTT to serve Goodall the court documents, initiating the formalities for the case to proceed.
Dimension Data, South Africa’s biggest listed technology stock before a 2010 buyout by NTT, decided to sell its Johannesburg headquarters for the twin purpose of selling assets unrelated to its core business and improving its Black Economic Empowerment rating, according to NTT’s court filing.
These ratings are a core part of government policy to encourage sale of assets to people disadvantaged during apartheid in Africa’s most industrialized nation.
The campus was bought by Identity Fund for R1.4 billion ($81 million) in 2019. The deal is now in the early stages of being unwound, NTT’s lawyers said in the suit.
Dimension Data has separately sued other officials of the company for the alleged graft in South Africa.