Ramaphosa: We are ashamed of what happened at VBS Mutual Bank

Johannesburg- What has happened at VBS Mutual Bank is shameful, and those responsible must be dealt with in terms of the law, said President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa speaking to eNCA’s Jane Dutton about the mutual bank in a wide-ranging interview on Monday night. After concluding his three-legged visit to oil-producing countries Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the president tackled issues that members of the public wanted answers.

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) placed VBS Mutual Bank under curatorship in March during a time when it faced liquidity crisis after municipalities withdrew their deposits.

Subsequent to the curatorship, the bank has been in a tail spin of fraud allegations. According to Fin24 report, it alleged that R1.5bn was looted by executives.

Ramaphosa referring to the scandal, “What happened at VBS is really a shame not only to the people of Venda or Limpopo but the people of South Africa as a whole – and ordinary women who save their money for burial societies. We are really ashamed about what happened.”

He acknowledged the criticisms of current regulatory processes for mutual banks, which has less stringent rules than those for commercial banks. “Some have suggested that the rules and regulations are too lax,” he said. There was “obviously a lapse” in terms of the power given to the Reserve Bank to guide the mutual bank.

The president was hopeful in the steps taken to ensure depositors recover their money. “We would like to save VBS, it has a good brand name. It has served the people of Limpopo very well and it got lost along the way because there were people who had ill intent,” he said.

Ramaphosa said those responsible for what has happened at VBS Bank must be dealt with in terms of the law. He pointed some in the company raided money from the bank, taking from the poorest of the poor and from municipalities which were meant to use the money for projects.

“There has to be follow-up and accountability there because it is money stolen from our people.

“Maybe we should stop using euphemisms and we must call these people thieves because that is precisely what they are – they are thieves, robbers and scoundrels,” said Ramaphosa.

“People who take money from ordinary grandmothers who put money there for their life savings as well as for their burials, have to be called exactly what they are – thieves.”

Photo Credit- Investing.com

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