State capture inquiry: We would’ve been in big trouble if we discussed clients’ accounts with the ANC and ministers

After multiple other banks followed suit‚ Absa was asked to attend meetings with Zwane’s IMC and the ANC. Absa repeatedly declined the IMC’s meeting requests‚ Masithela said‚ because it had refused to provide the bank with details about what the meeting was actually about.

Nor did Absa believe that the IMC had any legal right to interfere in a bank’s relationship with its clients.

“There is no legislation in this country‚ or international legislation‚ that allows the executive to interfere in private client relationships‚” Masithela testified.

“We also felt that… any decision that resulted in Absa Bank allowing interference of its decision-making in financial crime matters would have been brought to the attention of the Financial Action Task Force who‚ at the time‚ were evaluating whether South Africa had some financial crime controls to ensure that we can combat money-laundering…”

As a subsidiary of Barclays‚ she said‚ Absa could have been reported to multiple international banking and law enforcement authorities – should they have allowed interference in their relationship with private clients.

“We were deeply concerned… it would have meant that Absa would allow their risk management processes not to be followed and allow deviations‚ which would then result in a decision that falls outside of our risk framework to retain and keep clients in the banking system that we would not ordinarily keep. It would have exposed us to sanction because it would have been a clear deviation.”

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