Hearing of Bankorp-CIEX review to go ahead in December

Johannesburg – The Public Protector’s office has confirmed that a court review of the so-called CIEX case related to the apartheid-era Bankorp bailout will be heard in December.

This follows a hearing at the North Gauteng High Court on Friday, where Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane’s counsel withdrew an application for postponement of the case.  

The Public Protector had previously said she would like the starting date for a review of the case to be postponed, as she had recently retained new legal representation.

In June this year Mkhwebane released a report where she called on ABSA, which took over Bankorp in the early 1990s, to pay back R1.125bn for a bailout Bankorp received from the Reserve Bank during the apartheid era.

The CIEX report is the name given to a document published in 1999 that argued money from what it termed illegal "lifeboats" given to SA firms in the apartheid era should, and could, be recovered. 

Both ABSA and the SA Reserve Bank have filed applications to have the report reviewed, and have each separately and publicly declared that no monies are outstanding for the transaction.

When asked on Friday if the decision to withdraw the application for postponement was related to the Special Investigating Unit deciding not to pursue an investigation into ABSA, spokesperson of the public Protector, Cleopatra Mosana said: "The preliminary information I have is that the SIU is going to wait for the judiciary review before [it goes ahead with] implementation."

No delay 

In October the Public Protector had filed an application to postpone the hearing, saying her legal team had withdrawn in September and her new lawyers had not yet come to grips with the intricacies of the case.

“Only on Friday, October 6, 2017, could the applicant’s newly assembled team of legal representatives convene a meeting to discuss the matter and the approach to be taken,” her earlier affidavit read.

“By this time, the entire legal team had only an overview of the matter as the documents could at that stage not have been studied by the legal representatives.”

The SA Reserve Bank opposed the application.

In its answering affidavit, SARB attorney Mamanyoga Manaka said: “The Public Protector’s application is deficient. She brought the application inexcusably late and has not provided a frank and full account of why the postponement ought to be granted.”

The SARB raised the importance of having the hearing in December, as it would bring finality to the issue of whether ABSA should pay back the money.

“The delay in the resolution of this matter continues to have a negative effect on financial stability.”

The Reserve Bank also indicated that the postponement would not be in the public interest. “Her affidavit is unapologetic and fails to engage at all with the significant costs that will be incurred as a result of the postponement,” its earlier affidavit read.

Hearing to start in December 

Mosana confirmed that matter will be heard before a full bench of judges over three days starting on December 5. 

“By agreement, the Public Protector will file her answering affidavit by 24th November 2017,” Mosana added. 

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