While the 22,700 retail depositors of the stricken VBS Mutual Bank are no doubt relieved to hear they will recover almost all of their deposits, it is taxpayers who may eventually foot the bill for the fraud that sank the bank. This week, the National Treasury said it would repay those depositors up to R100,000 — which amounts to R336m. But indirectly, the Treasury would also foot the bill to rescue the municipalities who illegally deposited more than R1.5bn of funds into VBS. So again, this means the taxpayer is on the line. And there’s more. The Public Investment Corp, the state-run asset manager which invests civil servants’ pensions, is one of the biggest losers from this debacle. Not only does it own 25.26% of VBS, it also has an outstanding loan of R350m which it lent to the mutual bank in 2016. As those government pensions exist in a defined benefit fund, this means the taxpayer stands behind every rand that may fall short. These are just the most obvious costs of the biggest...

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