So. Africa: NGOs still to receive a decision on whether banks which collaborated with apartheid govt. will be investigated one year after submitting evidence

Author: Lee-Anne Bruce, Centre for Applied Legal Studies (South Africa), Published on: 1 July 2019

‘Apartheid's banks no closer to facing justice’ 23 June 2019

One year after CALS and Open Secrets brought to light evidence that European banks profited from apartheid, no decision has been made on whether to investigate. It has been one year since CALS and Open Secrets brought to light evidence that European banks collaborated with the apartheid government and profited from one of the worst crimes against humanity in world history. We have yet to receive a decision on whether these banks will face investigation.

For nearly two decades, evidence suggests, Belgium’s Kredietbank (now known as KBC Group) and its sister bank in Luxembourg played a vital role in supporting and strengthening the system of apartheid in South Africa. Together, they were responsible for facilitating illegal transactions that allowed the apartheid regime to secretly buy weapons and continue its rule through violence – despite mandatory arms sanctions introduced by the United Nations in the 1970s. These banks have never been held accountable for their involvement in a global money-laundering scheme that effectively sustained apartheid and turned a profit from gross human rights violations.

…CALS and Open Secrets have given the contact points until 26 April 2019, the anniversary of the complaint’s submission, to come to a decision about the investigation and to address our concerns about the conflict of interest within the Belgian contact point. “The bar here is very low,” says Tumelo Matlwa, attorney at CALS. “All the contact points are being asked to do is decide whether to investigate further based on the main facts of the case. What could have reasonably stalled such a decision if not a conflict of interest? A year-long process is excessive and creates the unavoidable impression that our complaint is not being taken seriously.” “The message is clear,” says Hennie van Vuuren, Director at Open Secrets. “Corporations have nothing to fear. We cannot allow this to continue. We cannot allow corruption and delay tactics to prevent corporations from being held to account for their actions, for contributing to the suffering of millions living under apartheid and continuing to deal with its legacy of poverty and inequality to this day.”

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Related companies: KBC