Justice for apartheid economic crime: Start with the bankers Today many civil society organisations jointly call on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to crack down on corporations who assisted the apartheid state and profited from economic crimes under apartheid. To date they have escaped any accountability for their crimes in supporting and sustaining apartheid –…
Evidence uncovered by Open Secrets shows that two European banks were at the centre of the international arms money-laundering machine that violated arms sanctions against the apartheid regime. Open Secrets, in partnership with the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), took the fight for accountability for these economic crimes to Europe using an international accountability mechanism known as the “OECD NCP” mechanism. 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 is an international body, tasked with ensuring that companies comply with international law and respect peoples’ human rights. It does this through “National Contact Points” (NCPs) in various developed countries. We laid a complaint against KBC Group and Quintet Private Bankers (then KBL) in terms of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. In laying the complaint with the Belgium and Luxembourg NCPs, Open Secrets and CALS brought the fight for accountability directly to the banks’ doorstep. In a drawn-out process, riddled with bias and conflicts of interest, we eventually lost and our complaint was never investigated, despite overwhelming evidence and a recommendation that it be investigated by UN Independent Expert Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky.