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Statement on Competition Commission decision to refer for prosecution 17 banks

The African National Congress has noted the announcement by the Competition Commission that it will take seventeen (17) banks operating in South Africa to the Competitions Tribunal for prosecution on charges of collusion. According to the Commission the banks have, since at least 2007, been fixing prices and market allocation in the trading of foreign currency involving the US Dollar and the Rand; manipulating prices of bids and offers and, amongst others, creating fictitious bids. These acts of corruption have crudely exposed the ethical crisis in the South African banking sector. The act of manipulating the currency is an attack on the constitutional mandate of the South African Reserve Bank to protect the value of the South African currency.

The African National Congress takes an extremely dim view of the activities of the listed banks, understanding the banking sector as being instrumental to our quest for economic growth and development. Repeatedly, the country has called all social partners to a social compact, driven by what we had considered a collective goal of inclusive economic growth; albeit in the face of a depressed global economic climate. The profit-driven assault on the South African rand through such collusion and corruption by the banks flies in the face of efforts by the South African nation to prosperity for all. It is further an indication of how the markets are and can be manipulated by dominant oligopolies to cripple its functioning to suit their nefarious agendas. Without a doubt, further raises a question of the extent to which the currency was manipulated with politically motivated intentions.

The ANC will closely follow the developments in this case and calls for the Competitions Tribunal to level against the banks the harshest possible sanction where they are found guilty; serving as a deterrent to any other players in any other industries involved in similar activities. With the same vigor and zeal directed at public sector corruption, we must be unrelenting in fighting private sector corruption. The ANC commends the the fortitude of the Competition Commission in exposing the unethical operations of established monopolies in different sectors of our economy. This we say in view of the fact that this probe into the Banks follows similar incidents involving the fixing of bread prices and the collusion of big companies in major construction projects.

The ANC calls on government to take to heart the lessons learnt from this expose and move with the greatest urgency to diversify the financial services sector, introduce new players and irreversibly transform this industry in favor of the people and the nation.

Issued by the African National Congress

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