Date: Jun 18, 2020

South Africa: Arrests a step in the right direction for victims of looting at VBS Mutual Bank

Following reports of arrests made in relation to systemic corruption at the Venda Building Society (VBS) Mutual Bank today, Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa, said:

“Today’s arrests are a step in the right direction towards justice for the victims, mostly poor people, of the fraud and looting that happened at VBS. Some of the most vulnerable in society as well as rural communities and stokvels entrusted their hard-earned cash to the bank, only for it to be stolen.

The collusion between the bank’s executives, politically exposed persons (PEPs), and unscrupulous auditors was a huge betrayal of the poorest of the poor in a country that’s struggling with high levels of inequality between the haves and the have nots. The alleged perpetrators must now be held accountable for their wrongdoing in fair trials.”

Background

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.

His report, The Great Bank Heist published on 10 October 2018, revealed the perpetrators – bank executives and business people, auditors and politicians – 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:

Mienke Steytler, Media and Digital Content Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 (0)64 890 9224; mienke.steytler@amnesty.org.za