SARB not attacking a ‘black bank’ – Kganyago

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Cape Town – The Reserve Bank Lesetja Kganyago has slammed
ideas that its decision to place VBS Mutual Bank under curatorship is an attack
on black-owned banks.

Kganyago was speaking at a briefing on Sunday afternoon,
where he announced that the mutual bank would be placed under curatorship given
the “severity” of its liquidity crisis.

VBS first came into the spotlight in 2016 when it was
revealed that the bank granted the former president Jacob Zuma a R7.8m bond to pay for
security upgrades at his Nkandla residence.

Auditing firm SizweNtsalubaGobodo has been appointed curator
to assess the way forward for the bank. For now, its planned listing on the JSE
has been postponed, Kganyago told journalists.

Hours before the briefing, the Economic Freedom Fighters
(EFF) issued a statement saying it would be writing to the Reserve Bank and
Treasury to consider other rescue measures. The EFF views curatorship
undermining and hindering the participation of black people in the financial
services sector.

However, at the briefing Kganyago said it was “plain wrong”
to view the bank’s actions as an attack on a black bank.

“The colour of money is red, it is green, yellow, it’s blue.
If you apply for a banking licence and you are taking deposits you will be
supervised in terms of the Bank’s Act, irrespective of who owns you,” he said. “The
notion that the Reserve Bank decided to attack a black bank has to be
condemned.”

READ: VBS Mutual Bank being victimised – EFF

“We supervise all banks irrespective of who owns them,” said
Kganyago.

He emphasised that the central bank was acting in the public
interest by protecting depositor’s funds.

Deputy governors Kuben Naidoo and Francois Groepe echoed
similar views.

“It’s not about a black bank or a white bank,” said Naidoo. He
explained it was about protecting depositors in this case it includes deposits
from stokvels and rural people, which are mostly black. “We have a legal
obligation to protect them,” he said.

“We act in terms of the Constitution, without fear, favour,
or prejudice,” said Groepe. He added that it is objectionable to say the
Reserve Bank acts in bias. “We do not see colour. We regulate these entities to
the best of our abilities,” said Groepe.

Naidoo explained that the decision to place VBS under
curatorship was triggered on February 16, when it failed to honour an
obligation of the National Payments System. The Reserve Bank had discussions
with the bank’s management and board as well as its biggest shareholders; the
Public Investment Corporation and Vele Investments; to develop a rescue plan.”

“After an exhaustive process of engaging with the board,
management and shareholders, there was no other solution besides curatorship,”
he said.

VBS depositors

Naidoo advised that people who have loans from VBS should
continue to pay them off. The bank will continue to operate its transactional
accounts and will be recovering loan repayments, he explained.

Those with small deposits, less than R50 000, will be able
to access their money overnight, he said.

“We are appealing to people with deposits at the bank to
understand that it is protected and government is protecting those deposits.”

Naidoo said that the curator will likely develop a plan to
manage the liquidity going forward.

“It is likely depositors won’t get their money immediately,”
he said. The curator will likely consider the interests of creditors first. The curator will put in place a operational plan to remedy the crisis, he explained.

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