NEWS

Leaking That Public Protector Report On Absa's 'lifeboat' Was Politically Motivated, Says Cope

The focus shifted away from the State of Capture to the state of the banks, and Cope says that was deliberate.

19/01/2017 00:37 SAST | Updated 20/01/2017 19:50 SAST
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

The leaking of the report into Bankorp's (now Absa) apartheid-era loan is intended to divert attention from former public protector Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture report, Cope said on Wednesday.

"The leak is clearly a political agenda, and it's not just an innocent leak," spokesperson Dennis Bloem said in a statement.

Madonsela's State of Capture report detailed her investigation into claims that the Gupta family, through its friendship with President Jacob Zuma, tried to influence Cabinet appointments in order to benefit its businesses. It was released in November 2016.

In 2012, Madonsela began investigating the government's alleged failure to recover billions of rands the apartheid-era administration had borrowed to Bankorp. Absa acquired Bankorp in 1992.

Madonsela's successor Busisiwe Mkhwebane took over the report. A draft version was leaked last week. It contained a recommendation that Absa repay R2.25bn to the fiscus. The bank had said this was regrettable.

"We are of the view that we give the Public Protector time to finalise the report and officially release the report to the public because for now this report has no status," Bloem said.

Mkhwebane had opened a criminal case over the leaking of the report.

Madonsela's report into the Absa matter followed findings by former British spy Michael Oatley that the government could claim between R3bn and R15bn from Absa, the Mail & Guardian reported on January 13. Oatley's report became known as the Ciex report.

Two more investigations followed, one headed by Judge Willem Heath, the other by Judge Dennis Davis.

Absa said in a statement on Friday that all its obligations pertaining to the SA Reserve Bank's assistance were discharged in full by October 1995.

"It must be noted that the matters and events under investigation occurred during the period 1985 to 1995, 21 to 31 years ago," the bank said.

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