Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma must appoint a
commission of inquiry into Barclays bank's takeover of Absa Group [JSE:ASA] in
2005 and its link to the arms deal, activist and author Terry Crawford-Browne
said on Monday.
"As a former international banker, I informed both the
British and South African governments as early as October 1999 that the
Barclays bank loan agreements for the (British defence company) BAE arms deal
contracts would be fraudulent," he said in a statement.
"I also repeatedly pleaded with the former minister of
finance Trevor Manuel not to sign those agreements."
He said the investigation should consider the implications
of foreign control over South Africa’s banking system, including what pressure
was applied to Manuel to approve the "ill-considered" takeover of
"The reality is that Absa, to the detriment of the
South African public, has been milked by Barclays.
"Although Absa’s assets amount to only 4% of the total,
Absa is reported to contribute 20% to total Barclays’ group revenue," he
"Surveys repeatedly find Absa to be the most expensive
of South African banks. The former governor of the SA Reserve Bank noted as
early as 2007 that he failed to see any benefits of Barclays' management at
Absa declined to comment on Crawford-Browne's claims, and
presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj could not be reached for comment.
Crawford-Browne said he had made a submission to the Seriti
Commission - an arms deal probe - to request an investigation of perjury
charges against Manuel and Maria Ramos in connection with the arms deal.
"Ms Ramos was then director general of the Treasury,
and under oath, affirmed that the 'agreements... are self-standing loan
agreements with binding force and not dependent on any other agreement entered
into by government.'
"This lie was exposed by the Barclays bank loan
agreements," he alleged.
He said he had previously submitted affidavits that detailed
how BAE paid bribes of more than R1.5bn to secure its arms deal contracts, to
whom the bribes were paid and to which bank accounts the bribes were credited.
The documents also revealed the complicity in money
laundering of the British government and both international and South African
He claimed that when a court awarded him with the discovery
of the international offer's negotiating team and financial working group papers
for the arms deal, Manuel and Ramos refused to comply.
"The court had previously rejected their arguments that
it 'was not in the national interest to reveal how the government conducts its
international financial arrangements'," he said.
"This is pertinent given enthusiastic approval by the
minister in 2005 when Barclays Bank took over Absa with a 55.5% shareholding.
What threats did Barclays Bank make?" he asked.
He said Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale was a major
shareholder in Absa and a former director.
Ramos was appointed chief executive of Absa in 2009.
"Clear conflicts of interest are evident,"