Opposition parties call on government to act decisively against currency manipulators

Opposition parties call on government to act decisively against currency manipulators. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File

Opposition parties call on government to act decisively against currency manipulators. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File

Published Nov 21, 2023


Opposition parties have called on the South African government to act “convincingly” against those involved in the rand manipulation scandal that has recently rocked the country.

Last week, Standard Chartered Bank became the latest commercial bank that admitted to wrongdoing and agreed to pay a penalty of R42 million to the Competition Commission for its role in conspiring to rig trades involving the US dollar-rand currency pairing.

The Competition Commission announced last Wednesday that it had entered into a settlement agreement with Standard Chartered, which “admitted liability” and agreed to pay an administrative penalty of almost R43 million ($2.3 million).

According to media reports, the country lost R1 trillion a day due to the effects of this practice while calls for the banks to be criminally charged grew.

The latest to speak out was the EFF, calling on the government to “summon” Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to come out of leave and account on the rand manipulation scandal.

Speaking at the National Assembly special sitting yesterday, the EFF’s Mzwanele Manyi said Godongwana should invite the SA Reserve Bank, the Bank Association of South Africa (Basa) and the Competition Commission to account on what the government was doing about the “currency crime manipulation”.

“The minister must come back from leave, unless it's for medical reasons and invite the SA Reserve Bank, Basa and the Competition Commission to come and tell us what the government is doing about the currency crime manipulation in this country.

“The reprehensible conduct of currency manipulation amounts to treason. It is treacherous because it undermines our economy and forms part of a greater scourge of illicit financial flows,” Manyi said.

He further blamed former finance minister Tito Mboweni and the Treasury for ignoring the “crime”.

“The fact that the national Treasury and the former minister of finance Tito Mboweni treated this matter as a small matter and went as far as trying to protect those who are involved should concern all of us,” he said.

The African Transformation Movement (ATM), the Pan Africanist Movement (PAC) and other formations have called on SARB governor, Lesego Kganyago, to condemn local and international banks that have been found to be involved.

The SARB has remained mum on the involvement of some of the biggest local and international banks in the rand manipulation scandal.

On Tuesday, the PAC through its secretary general Apa Pooe, called on the governor to address the matter and the involvement of banks in this treasonous act.

“We believe it is crucial for him to address the collusive actions of banks that devalued the rand against the dollar. This is an opportunity for Mr Lesetja Kganyago to salvage his battered image in the Phala Phala investigation,” the party said.

Pooe also urged Kganyago to reflect on the steps the Reserve Bank needs to take to hold the more than 28 banks implicated in rand manipulation to account and the implications this has had on the country’s economy.

On Monday, Vuyo Zungula said it was the responsibility of the government to hold the offending banks responsible for manipulating the currency.

Zungula said he has since written to the National Assembly Speaker to request a parliamentary debate on the matter before Parliament takes a year-end break.

“We can’t let this currency manipulation slide. The banking industry must be fully investigated for any and every unethical practice they are involved in. People lost homes, cars got repossessed, millions of people are in an endless cycle of debt because of these greedy banks.

The ANC through its spokesperson Mahlengi Bengu-Motsiri also condemned the scandal.

“We call on the relevant law enforcement agencies to enforce the law and pursue a criminal case against the individuals involved,” Bengu-Motsiri said.

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, while addressing the media on Monday, said those responsible for the manipulation of the rand will be brought to book.

Reserve Bank spokesperson Thoraya Pandy said the bank will only release a statement on Thursday as the governor is expected to pronounce on the matter then.

“As you may know the Monetary Policy Committee releases its statement on Thursday at 3pm.

“We are in our blackout period and thus do not provide comments during this time. On the query, please can you direct your questions at the Competition Commission as the relevant authority. We have no further comment on it,” Pandy said.

The Star

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