Black Empowerment Foundation lays criminal charges against Citibank
Criminal charges have been laid against Citibank for its role in the "corrupt and collusive actions" relating to the foreign-exchange fixing scandal currently being investigated by the Competition Commission.
The charges were laid by the Black Empowerment Foundation (BEF) at the Point Police Station in Durban, on Thursday morning. The BEF said the banks generated profits and earnings at the expense of South Africans.
The foundation also called for the National Prosecuting Authority to expedite the case, saying it would write to President Jacob Zuma to urge him to establish a commission of inquiry into the forex manipulation scandal. The original complaint accused 11 banks‚ including Absa‚ Investec and Citibank‚ of co-ordinating trading times from at least 2010.
The criminal charges come as the Competition Commission added new complaints this week against 18 banking entities‚ outlining further offences that Standard New York and the Bank of America allegedly committed while rigging the rand-dollar exchange market.
In an affidavit signed on March 31‚ commission inspector Mfundo Ngobese said the authority had become aware of "other collusive conduct" in addition to that described in its initial complaint against the entities. These included Absa‚ Investec‚ Standard Bank and Standard Bank securities subsidiary Standard New York.
During a media briefing at the Hilton Hotel following the laying of criminal charges‚ executive members of BEF‚ Ryan Bettridge‚ Zola Qoboshiyane and Bheki Shezi‚ said they were hopeful the matter will be taken up by law enforcement authorities.
They said BEF was a civil society organisation with objectives that were relevant to ensuring black economic emancipation and true radical economic transformation‚ according to its mandate and constitution.
"We are obliged to institute action with regard to issues that are in the interests of the unmasking and exposing of corporate ulterior motives, as well as educating broader society with regard to the economy and the effects of corruption‚" Qoboshiyane said.
"As the BEF it is our considered view that poverty is root cause of social ills and social instability. Millions of people remain oppressed economically and are condemned to poverty and underdevelopment with no chance of escaping. There are companies and financial institutions in particular that continue to commit economic crime with no consequences‚" Bettridge said.
He said their actions were a public statement on what the BEF intended to do to deal with economic crime.
"We wish to announce today that on behalf of the citizens of SA, we have laid criminal charges against the executives and management of CitiBank. This is for their involvement in the corrupt and collusive action for the forex manipulation scandal which is currently being investigated by the Competition Commission‚" he said.
Bettridge said a criminal investigation into the collusive and criminal acts of racketeering should be conducted, in contrast to a civil resolution being finalised by the Competition Tribunal.
In February‚ Citibank filed a settlement submission with the Competition Tribunal‚ something Bettridge said was a consent order and admission of guilt, in return for information and proof that that would implicate the others.
"SA law is not selective, it is impartial … the banks monopoly is held accountable for crimes against South Africans‚" he said.