Zuma speaks out against collusion in banking sector

President Zuma was responding to the announcement that 17 banks would be prosecuted on allegations of colluding to manipulate the value of the rand.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma in Parliament. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN – President Jacob Zuma says government is committed to protecting the country's economy against market abuse, price fixing and collusion.

Zuma was responding to the announcement by the Competition Commission of South Africa on Wednesday that it has asked the Competition Tribunal to prosecute 17 banks it alleges were colluding to manipulate the value of the rand.

“We also look forward to working with the financial sector, towards diversification and transformation of the sector so that new players can enter the market as part of radical economic transformation.”

At the same time, opposition parties and lobby groups have called for maximum sanctions to be imposed on banks found guilty of colluding to manipulate the rand.

On Wednesday the Competition Commission referred the case to the tribunal, which will now determine if 17 banks, local and international, broke the law by fixing the price of the local currency as far back as 2007.

ABSA, Investec and Standard Bank are among the implicated institutions here in South Africa.

The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says the party will write to the SA Reserve Bank demanding that the licenses of the implicated institutions be revoked.

“This must go as one of the important evidence to the fact of nationalisation.”

Tax lobby group Outa's Wayne Duvenage says while it wants banks to face the full might of the law, it's concerned about what it terms a knee-jerk reaction by those mooting a state-owned bank.

“It’s not about government running out and opening up businesses in competition with business because business misbehaves. We need to tackle the misbehaviour, we need to hold these people accountable.”

On Thursday, the ANC called for the harshest possible sanctions, saying private collusion must be tackled with the same vigour that's applied to fighting corruption in the public sector.

(Edited by Refilwe Thobega & Masechaba Sefularo)