The probe into the defrauding of VBS Mutual Bank must be expanded to ascertain whether a R7.8 million loan it advanced to former president Jacob Zuma was above board and was being serviced, the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) said on Thursday.
The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) placed VBS under curatorship in March and its annual financial statements were found to be inaccurate.
A report entitled The Great Bank Heist released by the SARB on Wednesday says some 50 people gratuitously received R1.894 billion from the failed VBS over a three-year period starting in March 2015.
The report also implicated the brother of the deputy president of the militant Economic Freedom Fighters opposition party.
Sanco national spokesperson Jabu Mahlangu said: “The Economic Freedom Fighters’ alleged links with the criminal underworld, possible benefit from VBS fraud, and involvement of its leadership in shoddy deals, including its earlier protestation that VBS was being victimised for giving Zuma a loan, must also be probed.”
The civic organisation said corporate corruption and greed associated with the VBS saga had not only impoverished unsuspecting investors but also undermined the security of the financial banking system.
“The Reserve Bank must tighten its regulatory framework and monitoring systems to ensure that none of the licensed banks that are operating in the country are capable of defrauding investors at such a massive scale without early detection,” said Mahlangu.
He welcomed the recommendation that criminal investigations must be instituted against VBS executives, officials, and all those implicated in the scandal.
“The probe must be expanded to ensure that all [money] syphoned from the bank to the detriment of investors are recouped and that the asset forfeiture process targets all proceeds of crime,” Mahlangu said, adding that municipal mayors, municipal managers, and executives of state-owned firms which had invested millions into the bank in violation of Treasury regulations and advice were held accountable.
Some 14 municipalities from the North West, Limpopo, and Gauteng have owned up to depositing about R1.5 billion in total into VBS.