PIC says it will work with VBS curator

14 March, 2018, 00:11 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Andile Ramavhunga CEO of VBS

In August 2017, following its own investigation of the legal implications of municipalities investing in mutual banks, Treasury issued a circular informing municipalities not to place deposits with VBS. This resulted in a number of councils withdrawing more than R1bn from the bank, causing a serious liquidity crisis. The EFF believes that placing a bank under curatorship should always be a last resort, something to be done after exhausting different rescue measures and interventions.

The curator was given the legal means to create the necessary mechanisms to implement a resolution plan which would ensure the long-run sustainability of VBS. "After an exhaustive process of engaging with the board, management and shareholders, there was no other solution besides curatorship", he said.

"The recent example of African Bank, which emerged as a stronger bank after curatorship, should be noted".

The rationale for restricting municipalities and their entities from placing funds into mutual banks is consistent with the objective of ensuring that funds meant for service delivery are managed as responsibly as possible. When the municipalities asked for their money back, the bank was unable to pay it, he said.

Kganyago said it was highly risky for the bank to take sizeable municipal deposits that were short-term and lend them out long-term.

The PAC says it hopes that it the fortunes of African-owned entities in every sector of the economy can be turned around, "we want to see main players of the economy being African and not foreign as it is the case now". This would ultimately lead to liquidity problems.

"Municipalities make their own decisions on banking and investment, as long as it is within the framework of the law", Treasury said, adding that it will engage affected municipalities to determine the extent of their potential loss and ensure that service delivery is not affected.

Since late 2016, the Treasury had been working to try and find an orderly resolution to the problem of municipalities placing deposits in contravention of the MFMA.

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Both the SARB and Treasury have been critcised by the Economic Freedom Fighters for undermining and hindering the participation of black people in the financial services sector.

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) said on Sunday that Governor Lesetja Kganyago and the Registrar of Banks will hold a briefing regarding the situation at VBS Mutual Bank, a small-sized lender. Kganyago dismissed rumours that the bank was being punished because it was black-owned, saying all banks were equally monitored.

"In the end, we were faced with a well-organised and powerful system, which does not tolerate growing black banks and black excellence", he said.

When Capitec was reported to have engaged in unacceptable financial conduct, the Reserve Bank was quick to act and assure the markets and depositories because Capitec is owned by white people.

Treasury also responded to the allegations in its statement.

"National Treasury's actions are trying to balance the need for a more diversified small banking sector against the need for well-run and well-governed municipalities", it said.

The bank shot to prominence in 2016 when it lent former South African President Jacob Zuma ZAR7.8 million to reimburse the state for the non-security upgrades made to his private homestead in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal.

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