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Former Fedusa official Dennis George and five others join Iqbal Survé in banks battle

Former Fedusa general-secretary Dennis George joins Sekunjalo Group executive chairman Dr Iqbal Survé in battle against the banks. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Former Fedusa general-secretary Dennis George joins Sekunjalo Group executive chairman Dr Iqbal Survé in battle against the banks. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Published Jun 15, 2022

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Cape Town - Former Fedusa general secretary Dennis George’s application to intervene as complainants in a class action in the proceedings instituted by the Sekunjalo Group of Companies’ (Sekunjalo) executive chairman Dr Iqbal Survé and others in their interdict against Nedbank at the Equality Court has been accepted.

Gardee Godrich Attorneys has filed 288 pages of court papers at the Western Cape Equality Court looking into the systematic racial profiling of the banking sector.

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South African banks have faced a backlash for closing the accounts of black people.

Johannesburg law firm Gardee Godrich Attorneys says that the application intervention by George and five others, who are all his clients, was heard on Tuesday on an unopposed basis before Justice Katherine Savage at the Western Cape High Court.

Attorney Godrich Gardee says the six clients have all been subjected to the arbitrary termination of their bank accounts due to purported risk.

He says that among other things this conduct is unconstitutional, as well as being against the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, and the Financial Intelligence Centre Act.

Judge Savage has granted leave for George and the others to intervene as the fifty-second to fifty-seventh complainants in the main application.

Gardee said: “Our clients are thrilled with the outcome of the intervention application; they regard this as the first victory in the fight against the unconstitutional and discriminatory conduct by the banks and other financial institutions.”

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He says the clients are looking forward to advancing the legal argument in their applications and believed that it would lead to reform within the banking industry, and that the “unconstitutional conduct of the banks without judicial scrutiny” will be brought to an end.

Attorney Godrich Gardee says the six clients have all been subjected to the arbitrary termination of their bank accounts due to purported risk. Picture: Armand Hough. African News Agency (ANA)

In his affidavit, George said he was previously banked by ABSA, but in August 2020 the bank sent him a letter terminating their relationship in a letter that said his profile did not fit with its internal policy or risk profile.

George says the banks have overlooked the fact that the concept of ‘bank-client relationship’ at common law is now mediated by the statutory and regulatory framework.

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He says that these are the Constitution, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, the Conduct Standard 3 of 2020, the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, and the global standards set by the Financial Action Task Force, which is an international body that promotes policies and standards for combating money laundering, terrorist financing, and the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Previously Gardee, who has been involved in a number of public litigations has said his clients would have eventually brought their own case independently against the banks, but that the Sekunjalo matter has acted as a trigger and has spurred them on.

He says the class action is about arbitrary termination of banking relationships by banks against any client of their choice.

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In papers filed with the Equality Court in the Western Cape, Survé is asking the court to declare that the banks’ conduct constitutes unfair discrimination and that their decisions to close the group and its related entities’ bank accounts should be overturned.

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Cape Argus

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