Leaking of Absa report may be sinister, says Madonsela
FORMER public protector Thuli Madonsela has said she cannot exclude the possibility that the leaking of the Absa apartheid looting report was for “nefarious” reasons.
Madonsela was speaking to the Cape Town Press Club yesterday, where she expressed her shock at the leaking of the draft report after having promised discretion to the affected parties.
Last week, the Mail & Guardian newspaper reported it was in possession of an electronic version of the preliminary report following investigations into looting of state coffers by the apartheid regime.
According to reports, the remedial actions of the report signed by Madonsela’s successor Busisiwe Mkhwebane included Absa having to pay back R2.25 billion for a financial bailout by the apartheid government.
The report found that the then government breached the constitution by supplying Bankorp, which was later bought by Absa, with bailouts back in the 1980s.
Barclays Africa, which owns Absa, the Reserve Bank, the National Treasury and the Presidency have been given until February 28 to make submissions to the public protector’s office before a final report is drafted.
The governor of the Reserve Bank, Lesetja Kganyago, who is studying the report, has reportedly found some inaccuracies in it.
Yesterday, Madonsela explained how she took on investigating the matter back in 2011 by herself after her office first turned it down based on the fact that it was too outdated.
“We needed to answer the question of whether the money was legally recoverable. We firstly had to look at the behaviour of government on receiving the Davis Report and say ‘was there wrongdoing in how those reports were dealt with’, and based on that, we arrived at the conclusion I arrived at,” said Madonsela.
She said she would not be commenting on whether the current report was altered but did say the report was all but finished when she left and was only barred by an administrative error from putting her signature on it.
“I do have a view on that, but I choose not to comment on whether that report is the same as the one I left or whether or not both the conclusions about who did anything wrong and the remedial action are mine or not,” she said.
Madonsela said that historically, the leaking and sometimes theft of reports had always been for nefarious reasons.
She said that during her tenure, certain provisions were put in place to guard against such incidents but she did not know whether Mkhwebane followed similar guidelines.
“The leaking of reports has always been for nefarious reasons, even during my time, and with this case we had promised Absa and the Reserve Bank to share the provisional findings quietly before moving forward, not because they would have changed it but because we are dealing with the financial banking sector and the central bank.
“How it ended up with other parties or having electronic reports… I don’t know how it happened,” she said. “Will it be used for nefarious purposes? That is possible.”