Is Chris Hart getting off the hook?

By Drum Digital
28 January 2016

By Siyabonga Ngcangisa, Associate Editor

Suspended Standard Bank Chief Investment Specialist Chris Hart could soon be back on the job.

That’s if his lawyers have their way.

The well-known independent economic analyst was put under suspension by the bank after making a Twitter post that was considered racially offensive. The post insinuated that black people had a sense of entitlement.

He was due to appear before the bank’s disciplinary committee on Friday, 22 January but the matter was moved to 29 January, in what some say could see Hart off the hook.

Now Standard Bank insiders tell DRUM that the matter might be taken for arbitration, meaning that Hart’s lawyers and the bank’s top brass would negotiate for his reinstatement.

And the arbitration meeting is understood to take place on Friday (January 29).

Two bank’s senior managers, who spoke to DRUM on condition that they are not named, attribute this development to ‘deficiencies’ in the disciplinary process.

“The DC committee might change this matter to arbitration that’s why it was postponed. Certain procedures were not followed, “says one source, while another one, a senior staffer, believes that a reinstatement could be negotiated.

“I understand that the disciplinary hearing will be changed. It will no longer be a hearing and in other words, he (Hart) will no longer be charged with misconduct. His lawyers will make it a legal case due to certain procedures that were not followed. But I don’t think they’ll negotiate anything less than a reinstatement. I can’t say he’ll be off the hook or not, but we’ll know by next week,” says the source.

Hart could not commit himself on the latest developments, when contacted by DRUM.

“My lawyers are handling the matter. So I can’t say anything as the issue is between my legal team and the bank,” he said.

Standard Bank’s national spokesman Ross Linstrom was non-committal when quizzed about the authenticity of the arbitration talks.

“The bank is bound not to comment on or disclose the internal proceedings relating to the employment relationship of staff and can accordingly not respond to your inquiry,” he said.

But strangely, when the whole saga came into the fold, Linstrom was quick to issue a statement revealing Hart’s suspension, while also detailing the bank’s plans to institute a disciplinary hearing.

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