Former Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo’s hopes of claiming millions of rand in damages from his previous employer came crashing down when the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed, with costs, his application for leave to appeal an earlier ruling.
Moyo, who has tried to argue that the cessation of his employment with Old Mutual in 2019 was unlawful, was claiming contractual damages to the tune of R250 million. But a local division of the Gauteng High Court dismissed the appeal with costs in January this year.
Moyo’s lawyers argued that he was entitled to damages in respect of lost earnings, bonuses, share incentives and related sources of lost remuneration.
In the latest court judgment, handed down on 14 November, the SCA ruled there was no compelling reason the appeal should be heard. Court papers indicate that Moyo lodged the application on 29 August.
“The application for leave to appeal is dismissed with costs on the grounds that there is no reasonable prospect of success in an appeal and there is no other compelling reason why an appeal should be heard,” the order reads.
The latest court order may signal the end of the legal battle that has dragged on for three and half years. Its genesis lay in the life insurer and investment firm’s discovery of a conflict of interest, which led to its sour breakup with Moyo.
Moyo’s dismissal came after the insurer’s mechanism to safeguard against a conflict of interest between NMT Capital – a company Moyo co-founded, which also invested in Old Mutual – kicked in.
Moyo chaired an NMT Capital board meeting in 2018, where a decision was made to pay an ordinary dividend of R105 million. Moyo and his partners would share R84 million.
“Of this, an amount of R21 million was paid to Mr Moyo in his personal capacity and a further R7 million was paid to the company owned by his family trust,” court papers show.
The board had meanwhile elected not to pay preference share dividends valued at R65.4 million that were due to Old Mutual.
The insurer has previously justified its stance, saying that it expects “high standards of conduct and high levels of trust” from a high-level executive who was paid R35.5 million in 2018.
Since his dismissal, Moyo has launched legal cases against Old Mutual a number of times, including when he attempted to bar the insurer from hiring a new permanent CEO.
Although he was temporarily reinstated, Old Mutual barred him from entering its offices in Sandton while it appealed. Moyo later lost the case in 2020.
The courts have also ruled against him for a lack of evidence to prove Old Mutual acted unlawfully when the company axed him, stating that there was no transgression of Companies Act by Old Mutual’s directors.