Reserve Bank will still go to high court over public protector’s report

The South African Reserve Bank will still proceed with a court application to review the public protector’s report on the illegal apartheid-era loan to Bankorp because it says the report contains “evidential factual inaccuracies”.

In a statement released on Tuesday morning, the Reserve Bank noted that public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane had decided not to oppose its application to have the report reviewed and set aside because of her remedial action, which instructed Parliament to begin a process that “will result” in changes to the Constitution on the Bank’s role.

In court papers, Mkhwebane conceded that her office does not have powers to instruct Parliament to make changes to the Constitution. The Reserve Bank said it will consult its legal advisers on Mkhwebane’s response and will go ahead with its bid to have the report reviewed in the high court In Pretoria.

“However, as announced in a media statement of the 20th of June, the SARB will proceed with a separate application for the review of the public protector’s report and evidential factual inaccuracies therein,” the Reserve Bank said.

Absa, which bought Bankorp, has agreed with the Reserve Bank, saying the report contains “numerous misrepresentations and factual inaccuracies”. Absa made its remarks shortly after the report was released in June.

Absa said the public protector was wrong in finding that Absa’s shareholders had unduly benefited from the apartheid-era “lifeboat” to Bankorp, saying that previous panels who investigated the issue – such as the one headed by Judge Dennis Davis – found that it was Sanlam policyholders who had profited.

The public protector made findings against both Absa and the Reserve Bank. In her remedial action, she said the Special Investigating Unit must re-open the Bankorp case. 

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