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Sarb welcomes prosecution of high profile suspects accused of defrauding VBS

The central bank raised the alarm when VBS Mutual Bank couldn’t meet its obligations, leading to the two-year criminal investigations by the Hawks.

VBS Mutual Bank in Thohoyandou. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) has welcomed the prosecution of eight high profile individuals for allegedly defrauding VBS Mutual Bank out of millions of rands.

The central bank raised the alarm when VBS couldn’t meet its obligations, leading to the two-year criminal investigations by the Hawks.

WATCH: 8 arrested for VBS heist, 'the biggest bank robbery in this country'

Seven people are expected to appear in the Palm Ridge Regional Court on Thursday while the eighth suspect, who is in COVID-19 quarantine, will be charged later.

The reserve bank commissioned a forensic report into VBS and the mutual bank was placed under curatorship in 2018 when it faced liquidity challenges.

Hawks head Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya explained what preliminary investigations found.

“There was a deficiency in the monies received by VBS, which amount to R2,296,599,000.”

The report by Advocate Terry Motau, titled The Great Bank Heist, laid bare how billions were siphoned off from the bank.

But at the time the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) accused the central bank of undermining black people’s participation in the ownership and control of financial services institutions.

The EFF has now welcomed the arrests but has warned that the legal principle of innocent until proven guilty must be applied in the letter and spirit of the law.

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