EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu has denied he was in any way conflicted when he attended parliamentary hearings on the VBS Mutual Bank, because he did not know his brother Brain had received money from the bank’s majority shareholder.

But the DA is not buying that explanation, with the party’s John Steenhuisen telling Business Day that he did not believe  that Shivambu did not know his brother had received R16m from VBS’s majority shareholder, Vele Investments.

Shivambu, an EFF MP,  has been outspoken in vocalising the party’s opposition to the Reserve Bank’s decision earlier in 2018 to place VBS, which faced near collapse after almost R2bn was allegedly looted by its directors and executives, under curatorship. But he insists this was a matter of principle, not a stance driven by a desire to protect anyone linked to the bank’s alleged looting.

The DA has laid a complaint against Shivambu with parliament’s ethics committee, alleging that he violated parliament’s code of conduct by failing to disclose — during meetings at which the VBS saga was discussed and decided on — that his family had a financial interest linked to the scandal or may have benefited from it.

A report commissioned by the Reserve Bank on the alleged looting of the bank, which received massive deposits from multiple Limpopo municipalities, says the payments given to Brian Shivambu were “gratuitous”.

Both Shivambu and EFF leader Julius Malema have welcomed the possibility of a parliamentary investigation into Shivambu’s alleged ethical breaches, with Malema insisting that his deputy did not have a conflict on interest when he represented the EFF in parliamentary hearings on the VBS. “He was not conflicted,” Malema said.

In a press briefing at the EFF’s headquarters on Tuesday, Shivambu denied knowing that his brother had concluded contracts with Vele Investments in December 2017, months before parliament’s standing committee on finance met over the fate of the struggling bank.

“I got to pay detailed attention to the contractual relationship which my younger brother had with Vele Investments only after this issue came out that he had a contract or he benefited from VBS. And I saw in the contract that he was providing consulting and advisory services on the nonbanking assets of Vele Investments.”

Shivambu added: “So there was nothing to disclose about that and in any way our intervention in VBS was not in an attempt to save the shareholders, it was not in an attempt to save the directors. We never said there must be protection of the shareholders of VBS so they must continue to give us money and all of those other things.”

According to Shivambu, who is backed up by the EFF’s leadership, the party’s vocal opposition to the VBS being placed under curatorship was based on its “principled position” that the bank could and should be saved with recapitalisation through a government guarantee.

Shivambu also appeared to strongly suggest that the R16m his brother received for these services was not unusual or excessive. This is despite the forensic report by advocate Terry Motau revealing how nearly R2bn was looted from the bank and allegedly channelled to top bank officials and politically connected individuals.

But when Shivambu was directly asked if he believed those payments were innocent, Malema intervened and said it would not be appropriate, at this stage, to comment on the intention behind those payments.