Leaking of public protector report into apartheid-era looting slammed

Absa bank headquarters downtown Johannesburg

Pedestrains walk outside the headquarters of Absa bank in downtown Johannesburg.

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JOHANNESBURG - The leaking of the Public Protector's provisional report into the acquisition of Bankorp by Absa in the early 90s, has sparked some strong reaction.

The Public Protector's office says it will issue a statement on the potentially politically explosive Ciex investigation on Monday.

A version of the provisional report into alleged apartheid era looting, has been leaked.

Absa Bank is implicated in this report, which also makes findings against former President, Thabo Mbeki.

The bank confirms it has the report, and plans to challenge its findings and recommendations, which require the state to recover over R2-billion from the bank.

In her last days in office, then Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, said she had finalised, but not signed, her provisional report into the so-called Ciex matter.




Her investigation centered on claims the Mbeki administration had improperly failed to recover billions of rands in interest from an apartheid-era bail-out given to Bankcorp, before it became Absa bank.

Months later, and an alleged provisional report on the Ciex saga has been leaked.

This report, which purports to be signed by new Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, finds that Mbeki and his administration violated the constitution by not recovering over R2-billion in interest from the Bankcorp bail-out from ABSA. It also states that this unpaid interest must be recovered by the state.

Here’s the catch: Mkhwebane has told Advocate Paul Hoffman, who asked Madonsela to investigate the Ciex saga, that there is no preliminary report.

Hoffman says, "She says there is no preliminary report. There is only a notice, under the Public Protector legislation, in which the Reserve Bank and ABSA are treated as implicated parties who may be detrimentally effected by the report that is under preparation.”

But Absa, which is currently at the centre of an ugly legal battle with the politically connected Gupta family, has come out and stated that it is in possession of the preliminary report.



It claims the report contains several factual and legal inaccuracies. It also claims that it offered to provide certain confidential documentation to the Public Protector about the Ciex saga, but her office has not taken it up on this offer.

We may not know the exact status of this leaked report, but there is a bigger question here: has this document been altered from the report Madonsela finished, but never signed?

And if it has, what evidence was used to justify any such changes – changes which may have profound legal and political consequences.