Source: The Citizen
The EFF has criticised South Africa’s major banks, calling them opportunistic and hypocritical “in their testimony given to the state capture inquiry”.
Standard Bank’s retired head of legal testified at the inquiry on Monday giving reasons that led the bank deciding to close the business accounts of the controversial Gupta family.
Former FirstRand Group – which First National Bank (FNB) is a division of – chief executive officer (CEO) Johan Burger is testifying at the commission today.
“These banks were very happy to do business with the Guptas until the unceremonious December 2015 removal of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister when South African stocks were severely devalued,” the EFF said in a statement.
The red berets added that by the time of Nene’s axing, the Guptas and former president Jacob Zuma – who are commonly referred to as the Zuptas – were already carrying out corrupt activities “facilitated by the very same banks”.
The EFF said: “It is impossible that the banks only started to notice the suspicious transactions of the Guptas and their companies in 2016 as they now want us to believe.
“The truth is that these banks colluded in the looting of the country for as long as it was feeding into their profit maximisation motives and greed. These are the only driving forces behind the commercial banks. For them, it’s profit before people and the country.”
The party said it hopes the chair of the commission Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo would not be fooled by the testimony of the banks.
“We call on the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) and the Financial Intelligence Centre to launch a separate probe into the complicity of South African banks in the Gupta state capture and why they turned a blind eye towards an obviously suspicious transactions before 2016 and to hold them accountable for their part in state capture,” the EFF said.
The party added that if the Sarb fails to institute such a probe the party would take it upon itself to initiate a parliamentary probe into the matter.
Meanwhile, Burger testified on Tuesday that FNB had closed the accounts of the Guptas due to associated reputational and business risks.
Standard Bank has denied that it has opened a bank account associated with the Gupta family.
It was reported earlier on Tuesday that the top-4 bank had agreed to open bank accounts for business rescue practitioners controlling seven Gupta companies.
However, Standard Banks spokesperson Ross Lindstrom has said the bank terminated all dealings with the Gupta family and all entities controlled by it with effect from June 2016, and that that decision still stood.
Earlier, business rescue practitioner Louis Klopper confirmed that Standard Bank had agreed to open a new account‚ with strict conditions limiting access only to Klopper and his partner practitioner‚ Kurt Knoop.
Klopper said this had been a crucial stumbling block to getting the Gupta companies‚ particularly the four mines owned by the family‚ back up and running.
However, in an e-mail to Business Day, Linstrom said on behalf of the bank: “Standard Bank of SA has not opened and will not open accounts with these companies. Any impression created to the contrary was created by an employee that was acting out of mandate.
“Communication between the employee and [Klopper] was not authorised and did not follow the internal processes of the bank. Disciplinary procedures are currently under way.”
The Gupta family has had to make do with facilities at the Bank of Baroda — a relationship that has deteriorated since the bank started to come under pressure from the Reserve Bank over the large number of suspicious transactions the Gupta family were processing.
On February 16 the directors of Gupta-owned Tegeta filed for business rescue‚ placing Optimum‚ Koornfontein and Brakfontein coal mines in Mpumalanga, as well as Shiva Uranium in the North West, under Klopper’s control.
Property investment companies Confident Concepts and Islandsite Investments 180 were also placed under business rescue.
The mines employ roughly 3 000 people‚ most of whom went on strike when salaries were not paid on February 25. The permanent staff‚ about 1 500 people‚ were paid last week.
By Kyle Cowan for Business Day
The National Credit Regulator (NCR) will investigate Standard Bank’s new credit card fee, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
The bank has been charging a standalone monthly “card fee” of between R10 and R210 to customers who use its credit cards only, with the fee depending on the type of card the customer uses.
The card fee was implemented at the beginning of 2018 and is charged in addition to the monthly service fee of R40.
According to the NCR, the Credit Act has a closed list of charges a credit provider can levy on customers – and the card fee is not one of them.
The NCR said it would investigate Standard Bank’s card fee and take approporiate action if the fee is found to be illegal.
According to Standard Bank’s pricing guide for 2018, the card fees are as follows:
Gold, Blue, and Access cards – R10.00
Titanium standalone – R25.00
Platinum standalone – R40.00
World Citizen standalone – R210.00
The report follows SA Consumer Satisfaction Index results in 2017 showing that Standard Bank customers are the least satisfied.
Standard Bank did not respond to requests for comment sent by the Sunday Times.
An internationally co-ordinated fraud attack involving forged bank cards used at ATMs in Japan has stripped Standard Bank of about R300-million.
Standard Bank and authorities remained mum on the progress of investigations and the whereabouts of the syndicate, as investors appeared largely unconcerned by the bank’s loss.
Spokesman Ross Linstrom of Standard Bank, which made just more than R22-billion in headline earnings across the group in 2015, said on Monday a sophisticated and co-ordinated syndicate had created a “small number of fictitious cards” and proceeded to draw a total amount of R300-million from ATMs in Japan.
He said investigations were at a sensitive stage, but that bank customers would suffer no adverse effects if their details had been stolen and used in the Japanese fraud.
Japanese media have reported that about 100 individuals hit 1 400 ATMs in just three hours on a day when banks are closed for business, with one withdrawal transaction at each ATM up to the daily limit amount set in Japan.
According to Japanese media, no arrests have been made and the individuals who made the withdrawals may no longer be in the country.
The fraud fits an international trend involving hit-and-run withdrawal schemes in which fraudsters may be jetting into countries in different time zones to buy themselves time to collect the cash and run.
The South African Banking Risk Information Centre confirmed the Standard Bank matter was under investigation, and CEO Kalyani Pillay said the local industry would provide full support to both the bank and law enforcement, where possible.
“The industry’s card losses for 2015 were in the region of R778-million across all card types for South African-issued cards.
“This was a 4% decrease compared to 2014. Banks have robust systems in place to monitor and detect fraud, but some risks lie with bank clients themselves,” Pillay says
Southern African Fraud Prevention Services executive director Manie van Schalkwyk said his organisation stops about R3-billion in fraud every year.
“Identity fraud is declining, and the main reason is the use of biometrics,” he says.
Van Schalkwyk said banks were making use of various databases and methods to try keep up with and combat such fraud, as criminals continued to evolve their modus operandi.
By Brendan Peacock for www.bdlive.co.za
Cape Town journalist and documentary filmmaker, Yazeed Kamaldien from Schaapkraal, Philippi, told the Cape Argus of his three-month battle with Standard Bank after he noticed an amount of R14 937.52 was missing from his account shortly after returning from a two-week trip to Brazil.
Standard Bank Fleet Management’s transaction authorisation system is geared to save fleet managers another record amount this year.