By Pinky Khoabane
The Mail and Guardian on Friday published a leaked preliminary report into the public protector’s investigation into large-scale apartheid economic theft ahead of the ANC’s take-over of democratic South Africa.
It said the public protector had identified R2.25 billion which ABSA got through an illegal lifeboat it received during apartheid. ABSA is Africa’s biggest commercial bank today.
The R2.25 billion is approximately R1bn short of the R3.2 billion identified by Ciex Ltd which first brought the ABSA matter and others, to the attention of former President Thabo Mbeki who later commissioned the London-based intelligence agency to investigate large-scale apartheid-era economic theft.
Former Governor of the Reserve Bank, Chris Stals – a broderbond member – helped his fellow broedebond members when Bankorp, which later became ABSA, was in financial trouble.
He used money from the Reserve Bank as a gift or a loan to BAnkorp – a private bank – which the former wasn’t allowed to do legally.
It has been largely reported in previous media reports that in 1985, Stals gave Bankorp a “lifeboat” of R300m to prevent it from capsising.
In mid 1990, the SARB further gave Bankorp another R1.5 billion which former ABSA banker, Bob Aldworth, in his book, the Infernal Tower, says R1.1 billion was invested in government stock and R400 million was invested in the Sarb. The Sarb “loan” to Bankorp was charged at interest rate of 1% per annum but it earned an interest of 16% per annum from government stock and the Sarb for the same money.
CIEX Ltd, Heath Commission and many commentators said the shareholders of Bankorp had benefited through this illegal conduct. A panel of experts appointed by former Governor Tito Mbowenni and headed by Judge Dennis Davis found that, from 1985 to 1992, had provided assistance to Bankorp and, for the period 1992to 1995, to its new owner, ABSA.
It is therefore disingenuous of ABSA to say it didn’t benefit from Bankorp’s lifeboat as it did in its response to the M&Gs publication.
But back to the money and the discrepancy in the R3.2billion and the R2.25 billion now being asked for in the draft by the public protector’s report. Where is the rest? Even if we were to take the amount widely reported in media reports, R1,5billion + R400 million, it does not come to the R2.25 billion.