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First published on Transparency International UK

A recent statement in the UK Parliament has generated widespread speculation that a major British bank has been involved in the South Africa’s Gupta scandal. In response, Transparency International (TI) UK and Corruption Watch, TI’s national chapter in South Africa, have called for a firm approach to be taken to any banks involved.

TI UK is calling on all relevant authorities, including those in the UK, the USA and South Africa, to follow a five-point checklist to investigation and enforcement:

  1. A thorough investigation by the proper authorities, as well as an internal investigation by the bank or banks concerned;
  2. Full co-operation between the authorities in South Africa and the UK;
  3. The company and any individuals concerned to be prosecuted if there is evidence of wrongdoing;
  4. Sufficiently strong punishment to act as a deterrent, and not simply to be written off as a cost of doing business;
  5. The deployment of a full range of punitive and preventative options, such as imprisonment of executives and losing a licence to operate, as well as a financial penalty.

David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, said:

“Time and again it has been established that hiding the proceeds of grand corruption requires the complicity of large establishment banks, auditing and law firms and financial advisors. The South African experience conforms to this pattern with global companies like KPMG and McKinsey already heavily implicated in the capture of the state by corrupt elements in the public and private sectors. It would come as no surprise were it to be found that one or more global banks is implicated. The intervention of robust UK and USA law enforcement agencies is accordingly welcome and may well represent South Africa’s best chance of finally holding the perpetrators of grand corruption to account.”

Robert Barrington, executive director of Transparency International UK, said:

“Banks are often thought to have got away with it in the financial crisis, and so levels of trust in both banks and regulators are at an all time low. If British banks have been involved in this most recent scandal, despite promises to clean up their act, then they should reasonably expect to admit the wrongdoing, face the full force of the law, co-operate with prosecutors in bringing their senior executives to justice and give a coherent public explanation about how they are going to learn the lessons and avoid – yet again – a repeat performance.”

For more information, contact:

Dominic Kavakeb
+44 (0)20 3096 7695 / +44 (0)79 6456 0340  

Patience Mkosana
+27 (0)72 992 9380