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Press Release: Update on IRD’s legal action against the Global Fund

10th February 2023

IRD is taking legal action against the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (“the Global Fund“), for various defamatory and disparaging statements made by the Global Fund against IRD following an investigation conducted by the Global Fund’s Office of the Inspector General (“the OIG“), that resulted in a deeply flawed and baseless report being published on 1 April 2021 (“the Report“).  IRD’s press release on 2 April 2021 concerning the impropriety of the Report is accessible here. As prefaced in the press release, IRD is seeking to ensure that the Global Fund is accountable for its actions and its material adverse effect on parties working on the Fund’s projects.  To this end, IRD has approached the Gauteng Division of the High Court, in Johannesburg, South Africa (“the High Court“), for interim injunctive relief against the Global Fund and the Report. It is important to note that the Global Fund enjoys immunity in Switzerland, where it is headquartered, which compelled IRD to file a case in South Africa for legal relief.

Since the filing of IRD’s application for interim relief in May 2021, the Global Fund adopted a strategy of seeking to avoid the merits of the matter at all costs during the High Court proceedings.  Despite having received the application and defending it in court, the Global Fund challenged the jurisdiction of the court, and claimed that there was improper service of the application. It also sought to forestall proceedings by forcing IRD to put up substantial sums as collateral for the Global Fund’s legal costs.  On 6 February 2023, pursuant to the Global Fund’s procedural objections, the High Court dismissed the case based on lack of requisite jurisdiction. IRD has already launched an application seeking to appeal the judgement to the Supreme Court of Appeal or a Full Bench of the High Court.   

In respect of the merits of the application for an injunction, it is noteworthy that the High Court stated:

“Despite IRD’s submissions to the OIG in respect of LoF, the Initial Draft Report, and the Revised Draft Report, the Published Report substantially retains alleged findings against IRD that are demonstrably inaccurate, misleading and false.  Given IRD’s detailed submissions and responses, the Global Fund had before it all the relevant and true facts.  Its smearing of IRD and maintaining false assertions against IRD is without, any question, intentional.”

“The founding affidavit sets out in paragraph 66 and further the defamatory material.  From these paragraphs, it is clear that [the Report] allegedly contains a multitude of false and demonstrably inaccurate allegations and findings against IRD, defaming IRD and causing grave harm to IRD’s reputation, goodwill, and beneficent public image, including its reputable standing within the global healthcare project implementation industry.”

The full judgement is accessible here.  

The High Court’s observations affirm IRD’s stance against the Report’s unfounded allegations.  We are confident that if the Global Fund is compelled to argue the case on its merits and not solely on procedural objections, IRD would be granted the relief it seeks, given the evidence and strength of our claim, as supported by the statements of the High Court above. 

IRD remains committed to its staff, partners, and the communities it serves by upholding the principles of justice, transparency and ensuring accountability for all.  IRD is considering further legal action in South Africa and other jurisdictions to ensure justice is attained.

Media Enquiries:
Name: Laynameyammai Periyanan
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