By Hassan Isilow
More than 1,000 protesters marched Thursday to the headquarters of Absa Bank, owner of Barclays Africa Group, to condemn the bank’s alleged involvement in manipulating foreign currency trades.
South Africa’s Competition Commission found in February that 17 banks including Absa had colluded in manipulating the price of the rand when selling and buying US dollars.
The commission also said the banks used trading chat rooms to coordinate times for the sale of the rand so as to manipulate prices.
"We have given Absa 48 hours to respond to our demands, which include disciplining executives involved in the practice,’’ protest organizer, Dumisani Dakile of the Congress of South African Trade Unions told Anadolu Agency at the protest.
He said it was painful to see the South African economy being squandered by both foreign and domestic investors when the country was engulfed by racial inequality, poverty and unemployment.
Dakile also said the protesters wanted Absa to pay back a 2.25‑billion rand (just over $170 million) bailout provided to Bankrop, which Absa bought before the end of apartheid.
A preliminary report by South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog recommended that Absa pay the money back.
It reportedly found that the apartheid government had breached the constitution by supplying Bankorp, which was acquired by Absa in 1992, with a series of bailouts from 1985 to 1995.
“We want them to pay back the money with interest,” Dakile said.
There are two other South African Banks among the 17 banks implicated in the forex trading collusion: Standard Bank and Investec.
In February, the Competition Commission referred the banks to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution.
Efforts by Anadolu Agency to get a comment from a spokesperson of Absa bank were fruitless.