Black Business Chamber slams closure of AYO accounts
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Johannesburg – The Black Business Chamber (BBC) has condemned the closure of AYO Technologies Ltd’s bank account by First National Bank (FNB) and said it viewed this as an attack on black-owned businesses.
AYO is the largest black ICT company in the country, employing more than 1 200 people. The JSE-listed technology company has been dedicated to transformation in the ICT sector as well as promoting ICT in the townships of South Africa.
The company has launched a court application on constitutional grounds against FNB after the bank gave the firm notice to close its transactional banking facility from May 3, according to a Sens statement on Thursday.
The black-owned firm said that despite its best efforts, FNB had not provided them with what they regarded as valid reasons for termination.
In its application for urgent interdictory relief, AYO raised the issue of FNB taking a unilateral decision to close the company’s bank accounts in the absence of good cause.
AYO says it suspects that FNB’s decision was political and a new form of restricting black businesses from participating in the economy, in particular in the ICT sector.
On Friday, the BBC commended AYO for its transformation initiatives in the ICT sector.
The chamber said AYO and Sekunjalo should stand firm, as they had the support of the communities and all black people in South Africa.
“This is even more disturbing because FNB provided no reasons for the closure of its accounts.
“The banking sector in South Africa is an oligarchy controlled by a few white firms, and we know that Johann Rupert is the significant shareholder of Absa and he was one of the founders of FNB.
“We are concerned that Rupert has used his influence at these banks to close the accounts of AYO. This is a gross violation of the rights of AYO and the rights of all black businesses of the country,” the BBC said.
The chamber expressed concern that there have been recent actions in the business community which undermine transformation and set it back by decades.
The chamber said it intended to mobilise its members to protest against Absa and FNB.
“We will, in the next week, announce a mobilisation campaign and publicise that campaign. We call upon FNB to stop discriminating against black companies. We know that FNB holds banking facilities for companies that committed fraud, such as EOH, Steinhoff and others.
“Not only is FNB providing transaction banking for these companies, but they are also lending them hundreds of millions of rand,” said the chamber.
The BBC said it also wants the Competition Commission to investigate collusion between Absa and FNB.
“We also note that both Absa and FNB are shareholders in other white-owned ICT companies, and this is one way of taking a black company out of the market. Apartheid was a callous system against black people and FNB is just continuing with their apartheid policies,” said the chamber.
The BBC added that it would not allow Absa and FNB or any other bank to destroy any business.