South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) has demanded punitive measures against commercial lenders found guilty of manipulating the nation's currency. Following Standard Chartered's admission and agreement to pay a penalty of R42.7 million for currency manipulation, the ANC deemed this settlement insufficient, asserting that the banks involved should face criminal charges for economic sabotage.
“A mere settlement of R43 million is not sufficient for the harm our economy has experienced,” the ANC said in a statement on Friday. “We commend the Competition Commission for their investigation but demand that all the banks involved in this illegal conduct face criminal charges.”
Standard Chartered's Currency Manipulation
Standard Chartered's admission came after an eight-year investigation by the Competition Commission into allegations of the bank's participation in a cartel aimed at manipulating the rand's value. Despite the settlement, the ANC remains steadfast in its call for stronger repercussions against banks implicated in this illicit conduct.
Roots of the Currency-Manipulation Probe
The saga traces back to May 2015 when the Competition Commission uncovered alleged collusion among banks to rig the rand's value against the dollar. This revelation followed a broader global investigation into currency manipulation, resulting in extensive probes and settlements worth billions in the US and UK.
Extensive Probe and the Impact on South Africa
The investigation scrutinized 28 banks, encompassing both local and international institutions, for their roles in manipulating the rand between 2007 and 2013. The ANC's spokesperson, Bhengu-Motsiri, highlighted that while the government faced undue blame for the rand's depreciation, the reality was that the currency was under attack via various messaging platforms.
“Our competition law regime criminalizes cartel conduct, which is the conduct that Standard Chartered has admitted to. It is time for law enforcement agencies to act and bring these banks to justice. We call upon the relevant law enforcement agencies to enforce the law and pursue a criminal case against the individuals involved.
“During this period, the ANC-led government was wrongly blamed for the depreciation of the rand. Meanwhile, our economy was under attack through messaging platforms like Bloomberg and Reuters. Real justice must be served for the people of South Africa.
We urge all South Africans to stand with us and demand accountability for those banks that have damaged our economy,” said Bhengu-Motsiri.
Calls for Legal Action and Accountability
The ANC emphasizes that cartel conduct, such as what Standard Chartered admitted to, is criminal under South Africa's competition law. It urges law enforcement agencies to pursue criminal cases against individuals involved in currency manipulation.
The party is vocal about seeking genuine justice for the citizens and holds messaging platforms partly responsible for the economic turmoil.
Economic Freedom Fighters' Stance
Echoing the ANC's sentiment, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have called for swift action against other banks involved in the rand manipulation. They demand not just financial penalties but the prosecution of implicated officials, advocating for accountability and legal consequences for their actions.
The persistent call from South African political entities highlights the significance of upholding ethical financial practices and holding accountable those responsible for economic malpractices that adversely affect the nation's economy.