Tag: collusion

Did the banks collude with the Guptas?

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.

South Africa’s major banks implicated for price fixing by the Competition Commission could face heavy financial penalties as the Competition Tribunal can impose administrative fines of up to 10% of their turnover for collusive conduct.

“In a world of substantial and ever-increasing fines, as well as the potential for private damages actions, it would be critical for the banks to show that they have stringent compliance policies in place.

“This would assist in providing accurate data and reports to the authorities to show that the conduct complained of was that of a deviant employee/s, and not common practice,” says Anthony Crane, competition law partner at law firm, Dentons SA.

The commission said last week that it has been investigating a case of price-fixing and market allocation in the trading of foreign currency pairs involving the rand since April 2015. It has now referred the case to the tribunal for prosecution against 17 banks, including three of South Africa’s big banks.

Last year six banks in the United Kingdom were ordered to pay $6-billion for manipulating foreign exchange markets in 2013. Coupled with the fact that our courts are now getting to grips with private damages claims as indicated in the recent SAA/Comair matter, this could end up being an extremely expensive exercise.”

In addition, the banking sector was criticised in the State of the Nation Address for its highly-concentrated nature and so the timing of the referral is unfortunate for the banks. However, they now have an opportunity to formally respond to the allegations before the tribunal.

The banks being prosecuted are Bank of America Merrill Lynch International Limited, BNP Paribas, JP Morgan Chase & Co, JP Morgan Chase Bank NA, Investec Ltd, Standard New York Securities Inc, HSBC Bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank, Credit Suisse Group; Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd, Commerzbank AG; Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, Nomura International Plc, Macquarie Bank Limited, ABSA Bank Limited (ABSA), Barclays Capital Inc, Barclays Bank plc.

Source: www.bizcommunity.com

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