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Judge Davis: I still don't believe Absa must pay back the money

The Public Protector found this week that Absa must repay more than R1 billion that Bankorp received as a bailout.

Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Judge Dennis Davis has told Eyewitness News he has never considered changing the finding of the Davis Panel of Experts which concluded that Absa should not pay back any money to government.

The Public Protector found this week that Absa must repay more than R1 billion that Bankorp received as a bailout during the apartheid era.

Controversially, she also proposed a change to the mandate of the Reserve Bank.

But the Davis Panel of Experts also investigated the Bankorp bailout and came to the conclusion that Absa need not pay back any money.

Davis says the Public Protector relied on the same evidence as his panel but came to a drastically different conclusion.

“As a judge, one is used to the notion that one is proved to be wrong on appeal. I’m not suggesting for one moment that I’m so convinced about this, that it’s not possible to come to a different conclusion. My difficulty is that in all the subsequent hoohaa about it, including this particular report, I find nothing in the present report of the Public Protector which tells us why we were wrong.”

SIU MUST RECOVER THE MONEY

On Monday, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane ordered the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to recover the money from Absa.

The Public Protector said the government failed to act on the CIEX report.

“Dealing with alleged stolen state funds after commissioning and paying the same, whether the South African government failed to improperly implement the report is substantiated.”

She referred the matter to the SIU to recover an amount of R1.1 billion.

“The South Africa Reserve Bank must cooperate fully with the SIU and also assist the SIU in the recovery of the misappropriated public funds.”

Mkhwebane found that the government’s failure to recover the funds has prejudiced the public.

She also found that the public was prejudiced by government’s failure to recover money unlawfully paid to Absa and Bankorp.

The Public Protector said the funds given to Bankorp belonged to the people of South Africa.

Adding that the conduct was contrary to the Constitution.

Additional reporting by Barry Bateman.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)