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Ramaphosa: VBS can rise from the ashes

Nov 06 2018 14:51
Lameez Omarjee, Fin24

VBS Mutual Bank can rise again from the ashes to serve the poor as it was intended to, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.

Ramaphosa was answering questions in the National Assembly on Tuesday. He responded to a question from DA leader Mmusi Maimane on whether action had been taken against those behind the mutual bank's collapse.

He said the report released by the Reserve Bank on the matter presented a "deeply disturbing picture" of theft and corruption on a massive scale. "It is essential for all those responsible for facilitating this fraud, this corruption, and those who benefited must be held accountable," he said.

Ramaphosa said the monies stolen from the bank's depositors – mainly pensioners who put their life savings into VBS – must be recovered. "We must act against those responsible for destroying VBS, and all those in private companies and state-owned enterprises and other parts of state trying to steal our country's future."

The problem with the bank is that it is laden with a great deal of debt and the only way to clean it is to put it into liquidation, Ramaphosa added.

"The idea of VBS should remain alive. That is a bank that served people in rural areas and the poor. A bank in which the poor had a great deal of confidence … In the end we may revive VBS and raise it from the ashes and re-establish a VBS which is clean and operates along the principles the original VBS was established for," the president said.

Former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, in a written reply to DA MP Kevin Mileham, said by the time the Reserve Bank and National Treasury learnt of the mutual banks financial woes, it was too late to prevent a fallout. The Reserve Bank has since filed an application for the bank's liquidation.

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