Net1 CEO Serge Belamant had fake PhD

Net1 UEPS Technologies said on Friday that its long-serving chairman and CEO, Serge Belamant, was duped into thinking he had a PhD.

Net1 UEPS Technologies CEO Serge Belamant

Net1 UEPS Technologies CEO Serge Belamant

JSE- and Nasdaq-listed technology company Net1 UEPS Technologies on Friday issued a statement to shareholders saying its long-serving chairman and CEO, Serge Belamant, was duped into thinking he had a PhD.

In a statement issued on the JSE’s stock exchange news service, Net1 said its board of directors had “become aware of recent allegations posted on social media questioning the validity of the honorary PhD in information technology and management conferred by Burkes University upon [Belamant]”.

After investigation, the board found that Belamant, who has long used the title “Dr” in front of his name, was likely to have been the “unfortunate victim of a scam and that the honorary degree was not legitimate”. The company denied any wrongdoing on the part of its CEO.

According to the statement from the company, the board examined e-mail correspondence between Belamant and Burkes University, the institution which purportedly bestowed the honorary doctorate on him. It made an “attempt to obtain any available information about Burkes University”, it said.

“Based on this review, it appears that in early May 2003, Belamant received an e-mail from a person who appeared to be associated with ‘Burkes University’ stating that he had been ‘short-listed by the honorary doctorates committee’ for the conferment of an honorary doctorate degree. After receiving this correspondence, Belamant responded by asking for details about the selection criteria and process. Belamant received a response that discussed criteria, which appeared to him to be relevant to the awarding of an honorary degree,” the Net1 statement said.

“Belamant provided the information that he was asked to submit, including proof of his memberships of professional societies, his academic records, patents he filed, his nomination for the South African chapter of the World Entrepreneur of the Year award and his work published in information security textbooks.

“Belamant recalls making a donation to what he believed was a foundation associated with Burkes University. On May 23, 2003, the honorary degree was awarded to Belamant. Attempts to obtain information about Burkes University revealed that, according to the Higher Education Degree Datacheck website, Burkes University is currently referred to as ‘not a valid UK degree awarding body’. Further, there is no current website for Burkes University.”

The board said of the embarrassing turn of events that it believes Belamant “followed the honorary degree award process in good faith and that at the time Belamant did not doubt the integrity of the process or the validity of the degree”.

“However, in light of the review, Belamant and the board have come to the conclusion that it is likely that Belamant was the unfortunate victim of a scam and that the honorary degree was not legitimate.”

Latest controversy

The fake PhD scandal is the latest controversy to rock Net1.

In 2014, the constitutional court ordered the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to reissue the tender amid the agency’s “irregular” conduct in awarding the contract to Net1 subsidiary Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).

Net1 has also come under fire for selling mobile airtime and loans to social grant recipients.

Amid controversies dogging Net1, the company announced last year that it doesn’t plan to reapply for the Sassa tender.

CPS is subsequently expected to hang on to the contract until its expiry in 2017, as Sassa told Fin24 last year that it plans to take over the social grants distribution thereafter.

Report by TechCentral, with additional reporting from Fin24

Share this article

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    Yeah riiiiiight. What was in it for Burkes? At some point I’m willing to bet a significant chunk of money exchanged hands. The scam had to have a pay-off that Belamant paid. At that point, the warning lights should have gone off.

  • “Belamant recalls making a donation to what he believed was a foundation associated with Burkes University”

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    Oops, I missed that. Yup, obvious scam.

  • AfroJuju

    This is hilarious!

    The arrogant little foul-mouthed frenchman who referred to himself as “Doctor” got duped.

    Dr Who?

  • AfroJuju

    Must have clicked the “Buy-a-doctorate” button by accident

  • Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

    Firstly and honourary doctorate isn’t worth the paper its printed on. Bob Mugabe has a few of those and we all know what he’s worth.

    Secondly, do you honestly expect anyone to believe this? Donation? Just how stupid does Net1 think everyone else is?

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    I’m not happy with Net1’s explanation… If I were a shareholder I’d be much happier they fired him for dishonesty that saying “he admitted he was gullible and easily duped, we’re okay with that, he can keep running this multi-billion-dollar company”

  • The Spark

    From their website:

    “Dr. Belamant founded our company and has been our chief
    executive officer since 2000 and the chairman of
    our Board since 2003. Dr. Belamant has more than
    30 years of experience in the fields of operations
    research, security, biometrics, artificial intelligence and online
    and offline transaction processing systems. Dr. Belamant spent ten
    years working as a computer scientist for Control Data
    Corporation where he won a number of international awards.
    Later, he was responsible for the design, development,
    implementation and operation of the Saswitch ATM
    network in South Africa that is still rated as one of the
    largest ATM switching systems in the world. Dr. Belamant has
    patented a number of inventions in a number of fields, including
    biometrics and gaming. Dr. Belamant holds a PhD in
    Information Technology and Management.”

  • William Stucke

    > Belamant, who has long used the title “Dr” in front of his name
    Anyone with an ounce of integrity would not style himself “Dr” on the basis of an honorary – i.e. unearned – degree. Real or bogus.

  • Muzi Makhaye

    This mollycoddling, pussyfooting PR poppycock would take the hardest hang-him-high form; only if the liar was black.

  • William Stucke

    Why do you have to drag race into it, Muzi? I don’t see a single comment here supportive of this individual or his actions.

  • CharlieTango

    Your racism is uncalled for. I wonder what your comments were regarding Pallo Jordan?

  • CharlieTango

    Talk about spinning a story…

  • V.O.I.C.E

    Pull the other one MR Belmont/Net1. Enjoy your new title!

  • Muzi Makhaye

    (Thanks for the compliment William.) Neither did I see a such comment; hence I have directed -and limited- my post to his company, Net1’s PR stance.

  • Muzi Makhaye

    Whose racism? No need to wonder about my comments about Pallo Jordan; they remain in the public media to this moment.

  • Coy Zan

    Oh look… flying pigs.

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