Open Secrets and CALS go to Europe to demand accountability for the international banks that financed apartheid.
New evidence shows that two European banks were at the centre ofthe apartheid era international arms money laundering machinery. For nearly two decades, Belgium’s Kredietbank and its subsidiary in Luxembourg were responsible for facilitating up to 70% of all illegal arms transactions that allowed the apartheid government to secretly buy weapons despite mandatory UN arms sanctions (see image below on page 2). These and other banks have never been held accountable for what a leading international bribery expert describes as ‘one of the most important global money-laundering schemes ever.’
In the face of widespread impunity, can these financial giants be held to account?
Open Secrets in partnership with the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) are taking the fight for accountability for South Africa’s historic economic crimes to Europe using international accountability frameworks. The complaint is against Belgium’s Kredietbank (now known as the KBC Group) and its subsidiary in Luxembourg (KBL) in terms of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
The conduct of the bank exemplifies impunity amongst private actors who collaborated with the apartheid regime. It also shines a spotlight on similar contemporary practices involving major financial institutions that continue to undermine human rights across the globe.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is one of the few international mechanisms available to hold businesses accountable for their role in human rights abuses. The OECD has various contact points in member countries that are responsible for ensuring that multinational enterprises operating in their jurisdictions comply with the business operations and accountability standards set out in the OECD Guidelines. Open Secrets and CALS will be laying the OECD complaint at the banks’ doorstep by approaching the Belgium and Luxembourg National Contact Points.
As a courtesy, both banks will be served with a physical copy of the complaint.
Representatives from both Open Secrets and CALS will be in Europe during South Africa’s Freedom Week to launch the OECD complaint and hold media briefings from the 24th – 27th of April.
For more information about this intervention, Open Secrets and CALS will be holding a briefing at CALS’s offices at the University of Witwatersrand from 12:30-14:00 on Thursday, 19th of April 2018.
For inquiries, please contact:
Khuraisha Patel: +27 71 944 9990
Hennie van Vuuren: +27 82 902 1303
Wandisa Phama: +27 78 684 3140
Michael Marchant: +27 82 772 2936