The Banking Association South Africa (Basa) on Tuesday hit out at reports that some of the country’s leading bank executives had been spied upon, saying this practice should be condemned in the strongest terms.
According to weekend media reports based on the ongoing #GuptaLeaks trove of emails, Absa CEO Maria Ramos and her husband‚ former finance minister Trevor Manuel‚ were among the executives kept under surveillance‚ while others included Rand Merchant Bank founders GT Ferreira‚ Paul Harris and Laurie Dippenaar‚ and Investec CEO Stephen Koseff.
Leaked documents reveal that Ashu Chawla‚ a senior Gupta executive‚ was in possession of a spreadsheet documenting the identity numbers and international travel dates of top banking executives.
Cas Coovadia, MD of the Banking Association South Africa, said on Tuesday that efforts to undermine the constitutional right to privacy of key executives in the South African banking sector should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
“There are serious and legitimate concerns with regards to the selfish and narrow interests behind this, as well as the obvious complicity of sectors in government in making sensitive and confidential information available for nefarious objectives,” Coovadia said.
“This ongoing and flagrant disregard for the rule of law is unacceptable. Government’s tacit participation in the encroachment of privacy of its citizens and its failure to condemn this serious violation is alarming. This raises greater questions regarding the suspicious motivation of the parties involved, as well as the extent of external control of government departments and agencies.”
He added that the latest revelation “shows the extent of state capture and breakdown in the functions of state”.
“These are part of attempts to undermine our institutions and economy and put individuals at risk. We must resist this by consistently promoting and protecting our institutions and critical sectors of our economy, including the banking sector.”
The Gupta family, close friends of President Jacob Zuma and his family, is at the centre of State capture allegations in which state-owned entities have reportedly been targeted in order to milk billions of rands.