ABSA, who had been caught colluding with other South African and foreign banks to rig trading of the rand, has this week been let off by the Competition Commission because they’re “sorry”!
As a consequence, ABSA, which had been facing a 10% of turnover penalty, equivalent to ZAR4.8 billion – will now face no punishment.
Commenting on what must be the earliest Christmas for anyone in 2017; Maria Ramos, Chief Executive of ABSA said the bank’s involvement in the rand collusion is “incompatible with the values of this organisation.”
But you have to wonder how accurate Ms. Ramos’ statement is. Only four weeks earlier, we learnt of the shocking news that ABSA stands accused of looting ZAR3.2 billion from the South African taxpayer during the end of apartheid and a full investigation may be recommended by the Public Protector.
Pravin Gordhan, our Minister of Finance, will of course be completely unperturbed, as he himself is a shareholder in all of the big four banks, including ABSA, totalling ZAR665,000.00.
Unsurprisingly therefore, following the revelation of ABSA’s collusion with the apartheid regime, Gordhan is said to have remarked that ‘it would be illegal to make ABSA pay back the money’.
Turkeys after all, do not vote for Christmas.
The disillusioned majority
Our regular readers will know South Africa is place of increasing disillusionment on whether or not our economy works for everyone.
In 2016, the Pew Research Centre, the world’s leading US based polling company, surveyed South Africans on if they felt this is a country that works for them or the wealthy few.
An overwhelming number responded with the latter.
Indeed, the more educated you are, the more likely you are to believe this, with 81% of those with secondary school education or above saying they believe this vs 63% of those with less than secondary education.
This crisis of public confidence – caused by the ever growing inequality – is a threat to our country’s stability, and the time is overdue that we addressed this.
Making ABSA face justice in the same way everyone else has to is a good start. No one in our rainbow nation should be above the law.