Jessica Bezuidenhout | Daily Maverick | 7 February 2020 |
It’s the worst-kept secret and the most ill-explored story of State Capture: The role played by South African banks. Now, for the first time, a comprehensive report has been handed to the State Capture Commission calling for some banks whose fingerprints are all over tainted deals or cross-border money flows to be among those hauled before Judge Raymond Zondo.
From Bosasa to Estina, Transnet and Eskom, compromised civil servants and political bigwigs have hogged the State Capture headlines.
But, bar few exceptions – McKinsey & Co, Bain and KPMG, Regiments Capital and Trillian – other professional service entities, particularly banks and lawyers, have escaped largely unscathed amid the noisy strikes against the Guptas and their cronies across the civil service.
Now, for the first time, the spotlight has turned on some South African and international corporate giants with findings and recommendations compiled in book form by Open Secrets and Shadow World Investigations.
Titled The Enablers, the 134-page book focuses particularly on the role of banks, consultants and lawyers and the conduct of some who may have facilitated, knowingly or unknowingly, criminal conduct that formed part of the State Capture enterprise.
First published by the Financial Mail, the full report was released publicly on 6 February 2020 and has also been submitted to the Zondo Commission.
The research team contends that investigations have thus far “overlooked” the role of these professionals and warn that a failure to “fully” and “energetically” interrogate their role would leave the work of the Zondo Commission incomplete and undermine efforts to guard against future abuses.
“Sometimes this conduct constituted gross negligence, but the evidence all too often suggests intentional complicity,” the report states.
It names and examines the role of, among others, HSBC, FNB, Nedbank, Standard Bank and India’s Bank of Baroda in transactions involving Gupta-linked companies and/or their work at state-owned companies such as Transnet and Eskom.
The research team comprising Michael Marchant, Mamello Mosiana, Paul Holden and Hennie van Vuuren, zooms in on some key transactions that have already come before the Zondo Commission.
While highlighting the need to scrutinise the role of lawyers involved in the drafting of some of the controversial contracts, a large part of the investigation is centred on the role of the banks.