Corruption under South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma was enabled by international banks, companies and governments which should now seek to recover the loot they helped to launder, British lawmaker Peter Hain told an inquiry on Monday.
HSBC, Standard Chartered and India’s Bank of Baroda as well as their senior directors were “directly culpable” in the looting of South Africa’s treasury under Zuma, Hain said in his submission to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.
Hain was invited to give evidence because he had already named several corporate he was investigating under parliamentary privilege in 2017 as complicit in state capture.
HSBC said it fully supported the commission’s inquiry, while Standard Chartered said there was no evidence linking it to the Guptas directly. Bank of Baroda did not respond to a request for comment.
“They’re all up to their neck in this,” he told the inquiry at his appearance.
“They continued because of course the corporate concerned, including the banks, were making money out of it…The Guptas could not have amassed this illicit wealth without the corporate and the banks … being their little helpers.”
Zuma, who was removed as president last year over corruption allegations, is facing a judicial inquiry. He has agreed to cooperate but has dismissed the probe as prejudiced.
Part of its brief is to investigate accusations that the Guptas – prominent businessmen brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh — influenced Zuma over political appointments and state contracts.
Hain, a labour lord and former anti-Apartheid activist, called on the banks, global corporate and foreign governments to cooperate better so all those involved are brought to justice.
In his submission, he said a number of international banks helped the Guptas cloak the source of their funds – by allowing them to open and maintain bank accounts, even after allegations of their involvement in corruption became public, and also by allowing them to transfer illicit funds into these accounts.
“The warning signs were there and they did very little about it,” he said of the banks, adding that when he had tried to question the banks after he had named them in parliament as complicity he “found a great reluctance, citing … client confidentiality, which is the excuse they hide behind…” -Reuters