South Africa: Alleged perpetrators in “looting” of poor people’s money must be held accountable
Following the public release of ‘The Great Bank Heist’ report into systemic corruption at the Venda Building Society (VBS) Mutual Bank, Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa said:
“The report paints an astonishing picture of the stealing of public money, that was enabled by the collusion between the bank’s executives, politically exposed persons (PEPs) and unscrupulous auditors.
“The massive scale fraud and looting that happened at VBS, as described by the report, will have dire consequences for the most vulnerable people in society, the rural societies and stokvels, who trusted the bank with their hard-earned cash.
"This is the greatest betrayal of the poorest of the poor, in a country that is struggling with high levels of inequality between the have and the have nots. In line with the report’s recommendations, authorities must promptly and thoroughly investigate allegations of corruption and where there is sufficient admissible evidence, pursue criminal charges and prosecute alleged perpetrators suspected to be involved in wrongdoing in fair trials.”
Advocate Terry Motau, SC, was commissioned by the South African Reserve Bank to investigate the liquidity crisis at VBS on 13 April 2018. The intervention followed the central bank’s discovery of liquidity irregularities in the bank by the regulator. Among other things, Motau investigated whether any of the business of VBS was conducted with the intent to defraud depositors or other creditors of the bank, or for any other fraudulent purpose.
The report has revealed the perpetrators - unscrupulous bank executives and business people, auditors and politicians - of the heist at VBS made away with over $138 million USD. This sum is largely made up of deposits from the county’s rural poor, who deposited their savings, and taxpayer’s money invested by municipalities. Municipalities invested service delivery money, which they were not supposed to have invested with the bank according to the law.
For more information or to request an interview, please contact:
Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada (English): +1 613-744-7667 ext. 236; firstname.lastname@example.org.