Source: IOL

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) welcomes the ruling by the Equality Court in the Western Cape, which ruled that the Financial Intelligence Centre must hand reports and documents related to “suspicious and unusual transactions” by Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, Tongaat Hulett, Steinhoff International and KPMG that were brought before it.

The Equality Court further ruled that the banks (Absa, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank) that closed Sekunjalo’s bank accounts, citing risks to reputational damage, must hand over their Risk Management and Compliance Programmes to the applicants.

The applicants had brought the case before the equality court alleging the banks treated black businesses differently from white-owned businesses, further accusing them of racism and discrimination. To prove this, the applicants who are victims of bank account closures by the banks sought information from them to prove their case. SAFTU welcomes the ruling precisely because it will enable a transparent investigation to test whether the banks treated black and white businesses differently.

In 2022, SAFTU argued that it was unfair that the banks did not close the transaction accounts of Steinhoff and other companies, such as Tongaat Hulett (both companies are owned by the white establishment) despite accounting scandals that rocked and crushed these businesses. Based on this, SAFTU opposed the closure of transaction accounts linked to Sekunjalo Holdings’ subsidiaries.

The banks cannot pretend to be paragons of morality and good ethical standards, mainly because they were implicated in the Rand/US Dollar manipulation between 2007 and 2013. The bullish and apparent discriminatory behaviour of the banks is somewhat ironic. If the SA Reserve Bank were to apply the same standards they have adopted against Sekunjalo Holdings and the applicants, it would have to close their transactional accounts and withdraw their banking licences.

Upon handing over the mandatory documents and reports, SAFTU calls for a speedy investigation to determine whether these banks were discriminatory and racist.

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