Tycoon jailed for $1bn bank fraud
THE Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in Gauteng yesterday marched to Absa headquarters in Johannesburg over the bank’s “involvement in activities that are detrimental to the country’s economy”.
The march started at the Johannesburg City Hall late in the afternoon.
Cosatu’s provincial secretary Dumisani Dakile, said that they wanted the bank to respond to their memorandum within 48 hours.
In February, the Competition Commission announced that it had evidence of collusion and price fixing among major banks.
The banks included Absa, Barclays Capital, Barclays Bank plc, Standard Bank, Standard New York Securities, Investec, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, JP Morgan Chase, JP Morgan Chase Bank NA, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Credit Suisse, Commerzbank, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Nomura International and Macquarie Bank.
Meanwhile, a recently leaked “preliminary” report of public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, found that the apartheid government had breached the country’s Constitution by providing Bankorp, which was acquired by Absa in 1992, with bailouts from 1985 to 1995.
Absa, which is owned by Barclays, has been called on to repay R2.25bn to the national fiscus.
“Cosatu is worried that every strategic sector of our economy does not belong to us,” the union said.
“The financial sector (banking and insurance) is a monopoly industry dominated by four large privately owned banks (Absa, Nedbank, First National Bank and Standard Bank), two of which have significant foreign ownership.
“Every day we live with the excruciating pain of looking at the economy of our country being squandered by both foreign and domestic capital when the country is engulfed by racial inequality, poverty and unemployment.”
The union also called on the government to establish a commission of inquiry which will look into the matter.
“There is a need for a commission of inquiry to get to the bottom of this matter and to investigate other illegal transactions that may have occurred prior to the 1994 elections and during the government of national unity. The allegations that the government might have overlooked recovering the monies from Absa are troubling,” Cosatu said in a statement.
The alliance also questioned South African Reserve Bank (SARB) independence on such matters.
“This report raises the role of SARB in facilitating the siphoning of money by the private sector and thereby prejudicing the public purse. This matter raises the question of the independence of the reserve bank.
“We need to nationalise the reserve bank, because it seems like it is hiding the rot and insulating banks from scrutiny,” a statement read. CHISINAU: A Moldovan court sentenced businessman Veaceslav Platon to 18 years in prison yesterday for money laundering and fraud linked to the disappearance of $1bn (R13.2bn) from Moldova’s banking system. The scandal saw the equivalent of an eighth of the impoverished former Soviet republic’s gross domestic product stolen from three of its largest banks from 2012-2014. An investigation has identified about 40 people, who either benefited from the scheme or facilitated it, but most of them have yet to be named. The court found Platon guilty of embezzling some of the money that disappeared from lender Banca de Economii, which subsequently went bankrupt. – Reuters
WORRIED: Cosatu marched to Absa’s headquarters to protest over its participation in activities affecting the country’s economy.