JOHANNESBURG - The SA Reserve Bank (Sarb) on Monday washed its hands of municipalities who deposited millions in embattled VBS Mutual Bank as Nedbank stepped in to facilitate payouts to other depositors.

The central bank said its deal with Nedbank covered 97 percent of depositors and that the municipalities would have to wait to see if there were enough assets at VBS to cover everybody if they hoped to get their monies back.

“Municipalities had no business placing deposits with VBS. They knew they were breaking the law, but they did it anyway,” said Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago.

“Even after the Treasury issued a circular that called on municipalities to refrain from placing deposits with a mutual bank, more municipalities in fact put in more money with the bank.”

At least 15 municipalities had deposited a combined R1.5billion in deposits with the troubled bank.

The government has provided a guarantee to the Sarb to facilitate the repayment of all retail deposits up to R100000 per retail depositor, starting on Friday.

The central bank said it had decided on Nedbank to facilitate the repayment of retail depositors following advice from VBS’s curator, and the bank met the four criteria set out.

“We also looked for a pay-out institution that specifically provides similar types of products to what VBS offered its customers, in case VBS clients should choose to leave their deposits with the pay-out institution,” Kganyago said. The Reserve Bank put the guarantees at R336million.

Nedbank’s share price added 1.57percent after the news broke that it would be paying out the deposits to more than 20000 VBS depositors.

According to the deal, VBS retail depositors or account holders who have more than R100 000 deposited in VBS will only be able to access their deposits up to R100000 through their new Nedbank accounts. However, the amounts in excess of R100 000 will remain as deposits in VBS.

Aeon Investment Management chief investment officer Asief Mohamed said Nedbank would not realise much economic benefit from the facilitation of the payments.

“It is not going to be a big money spinner for Nedbank. It’s more them (Nedbank) doing VBS clients a favour. The residents of the municipalities are the ones who are going to suffer the reckless decisions of the officials,” Mohamed said.

The fallout over the VBS saga has already claimed the scalp of independent auditor and designated audit partner Sipho Malaba, who left KPMG under a cloud.

Malaba is said to have taken undisclosed loans with VBS while he audited its books. This is despite VBS in its 2016 annual report stating: “The auditors do not, except as external auditors or in rendering permitted non-audit services, receive any remuneration or other benefit from the bank.”

The curator in April said the audited annual financial statements of VBS for the year to the end of March 2017 had been withdrawn due to anomalies in it.

Kganyago said they had reason to believe fraud took place at the firm and that management and the board were allegedly complicit. Meanwhile, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which manages R2.1trillion in funds, mainly from government employees, said yesterday that it was not aware of any of its executives taking bribes from VBS.

Deon Botha, the head of corporate affairs for the PIC, said the fund manager supported efforts by the Reserve Bank to restore VBS to a position where it could trade again on a commercial basis in terms of its banking licence.

“The PIC fully co-operates with Sarb as well as the curator, and the forensic investigation instituted by the curator, into VBS,” Botha said.

- BUSINESS REPORT