Absa seeks High Court review of Public Protector’s report

Meng Wanzhou

South African financial services group, Absa, said it has decided to approach the High Court to have the report of the public protector reviewed and set aside.

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane issued a proclamation earlier in June that the South African government is allowed to recover R1.125 billion in “misappropriated public funds” from Absa bank as part of remedial action in a report on the apartheid era Bankorp bailout.

In a statement issued by the group, Absa said that it would challenge Mkhwebane’s proclamation in court.

“This is due to the numerous misrepresentations and factual inaccuracies which are used as the basis for its findings, and what we submit are the report’s clearly irrational and unreasonable legal conclusions.”

“Absa respects constitutional institutions and has to date done everything possible to cooperate with the Office of the public protector during the course of this investigation.

“However the report leaves Absa with no choice but to seek recourse in the courts as provided for by the Constitution when an affected party disagrees with the findings of the public protector,” the bank said.

“The office of the public protector appears to have either effectively ignored or misunderstood Absa’s detailed submissions, which were made to it on two occasions. A copy of our February 2017 submission has been released to the public,” it said.

Absa’s latest reaction comes after the South African Reserve Bank also published an urgent application against Mkhwebane’s recommendations that the Bank’s mandate in the Constitution be changed.

“We also note that the public protector’s remedial actions include a directive to Parliament to amend the Constitution in order to change the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank.

“We are advised that the Public Protector Act does not empower the public protector to direct that constitutional amendments be made. Her recommended amendments pose a very serious risk to the financial system and they cannot be allowed to stand,” the bank said.