Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa was not forewarned about the impending implosion of VBS Mutual Bank, nor did he fail to take any action, the presidency said on Monday.

This follows a report that Ramaphosa may have known about the corruption at the bank in 2017, before he was elected president.

City Press reported that sources “close to a major VBS shareholder” had told the newspaper that a shareholder had informed Ramaphosa about what was going on.

"The allegation is baseless and unsubstantiated," the presidency said. 

"President Ramaphosa has no knowledge of any meeting where he is said to have met any person associated with VBS Mutual Bank where he was purportedly briefed on the matter."

The presidency said the VBS saga was brought to Ramaphosa's attention through official government channels, including the Treasury.

Last week, a forensic report on the failure of VBS Mutual Bank was released by the Reserve Bank. In one of the country’s biggest banking scandals, VBS collapsed amid allegations that its executives looted almost R2bn that they were supposed to look after on behalf of municipalities, stokvels and the elderly in Limpopo.

The Reserve Bank placed VBS into curatorship in March after withdrawals by municipalities — who are legally barred from depositing money with mutual banks — caused a cash crunch.

Ramaphosa is expected to answer questions in Parliament on Thursday.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane has already said he would submit an urgent question for the oral question-and-answer session to the president  “to confirm the veracity of these allegations”.

The presidency said Ramaphosa reiterated that law enforcement agencies and prosecutorial authorities should take action against those behind the VBS scandal. 

"South Africans should not be misled by attempts to divert attention away from those responsible."

The EFF has found itself drawn into the middle of the saga, as allegations surfaced that money from VBS made its way into the party's coffers. In the forensic report, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu’s younger brother, Brian Shivambu, is said to have benefited to the tune of R16m.

Brian Shivambu has denied this, while Floyd Shivambu has said he did not receive money from any VBS accounts in his personal bank account.

EFF leader Julius Malema will respond to the VBS allegations during a media briefing on Tuesday. 

The ANC's Limpopo treasurer, Danny Msiza, has also been implicated in the forensic report. He has been described as the kingpin in the process of soliciting deposits from municipalities.

The ANC Limpopo leadership met the ANC's top six officials in Johannesburg on Monday.