President Jacob Zuma has been granted an extension until the end of February to submit comment on the public protector’s report implicating Absa in an apartheid era-bailout, the Presidency said on Friday.
The report is investigating the alleged maladministration, corruption, misappropriation of public funds and the failure by the government to recover outstanding funds from Absa bank.
According to a statement, the presidency received the provisional report from Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane toward the end of December last year.
After studying the provisional report, the president requested an extension until the end of February 2017, in order to finalise consultations with all relevant role players, the statement read.
The leaked provisional report stated that Absa could pay over R2-billion in outstanding interest payments, for a loan granted to Bankorp by the Reserve Bank during Apartheid.
Absa had acquired Bankorp and had paid the loan and interest payments by October 1995, according to former Reserve Bank governor, Dr Chris Stals.
“I have said and I still confirm this – both Bankorp and Absa paid the interest that was due to the Reserve Bank regularly. The final or capital sum of the loan was paid by Absa by October 1995. So as far as I am concerned, Bankorp and Absa stuck to the basic requirement of the agreement,” he told Fin24.
The report was initiated by former public protector Thuli Madonsela after receiving a complaint by Advocate Paul Hoffman.
Madonsela was investigating the misappropriation of funds after government made use of the services by British company Ciex to help recover “billions” looted by the state during apartheid. The government failed to enforce the recommendations by Ciex.
Three years after the Ciex report, the Davis Panel of experts appointed by former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni found that Absa’s shareholders did not derive any undue benefit from the Reserve Bank’s intervention.
No claim of restitution could be pursued against Absa, the bank said in a statement on January 13.
Absa said that it was “regrettable” the report was leaked. The bank also criticised the report for not taking into account the report by the Davis panel of experts.
In an interview with EWN, CEO Maria Ramos said the bank respected the institution of the public protector and that the bank cooperated with the public protector and will continue to do so.