28/11/2017 12:25 SAST | Updated 28/11/2017 12:25 SAST

Absa Won't Let Mkhwebane Off The Hook

The Public Protector wants to have her cake and eat it. Not possible, says Absa.

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Absa is not about to let Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane off the hook and has filed supplementary papers in the high court, saying she is attempting to justify her report on the controversial Bankorp deal after her investigation and after the court review process has started.

In the affidavit, lodged at the North Gauteng High Court on Monday and signed by Maria Ramos, Absa's CEO, the bank says Mkhwebane attempts "to deal with the inadequacies" of her report by suddenly saying she had never instructed the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to recover money from Absa.

The bank, however, says that's exactly what she did. Absa rejects her assertion -- in her replying affidavit filed last week -- that she merely "requested" the president to consider asking the SIU to investigate the matter. Absa argues this represents a retreat from the plain language she used in the report and mirrors her climb-down after the South African Reserve Bank challenged her assault on the SARB's mandate.

Mkhwebane's efforts to introduce new reasoning in justifying recovering funds from Absa is also flawed, as it did not inform the original investigation or subsequent report. The Public Protector has recruited the insights of an economist, but Absa says the advice cited by Mkhwebane is inadmissable. It has also attached an affidavit by economist Iraj Abedian to counter the Public Protector's new evidence.

Absa, just like the SARB, also argues that Mkhwebane has "failed to adhere to the standards demanded of an organ of state" when it is involved in litigation and that she has neglected to engage "candidly and unambiguously" with evidence before her. It also refers to the public protector's opaque meetings with the State Security Agency and the Presidency as evidence of the fact that her investigation was neither fair nor unbiased.

Read: Reserve Bank Slams Busisiwe Mkhwebane For 'Abusing Her Office'

The court will hear the matter from December 5 to 7, 2017.