While executive members of the Black Empowerment Foundation were inside the Point police station opening a case of fraud against one of the banks implicated in the bank collusion scandal, supporters picketed outside calling for a commission of inquiry. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo

Durban – The Black Empowerment Foundation has called for the president to establish a commission of inquiry into alleged collusion by banks.

Speaking at a press briefing in Durban on Thursday, executive member Bheki Shezi said they would write to President Jacob Zuma as there needed to be a probe into how much had been “stolen and embezzled” through banking collusion.

Ryan Bettridge, another executive member, said they wanted the banks fined and their executives jailed as a warning to all those who “rape, pillage and manipulate our economy”.

The foundation had earlier opened a case of fraud, corruption and racketeering against Citibank which, last month, reached an agreement with the Competition Commission to pay an administrative penalty of almost R70 million for its involvement in the alleged forex trading cartel.

“Million of people remain oppressed economically and they are condemned in poverty and underdevelopment, with no chance of escaping, because there are companies and financial institutions in particular, that continue to commit economic crime with no consequence,” said Bettridge.

The foundation is a civil society organisation whose objectives are – among others – to ensure “black economic emancipation and true radical economic transformation.”

“The Prevention of Organised Crime Act as well as the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act demands that it is the duty of any and all South Africans to report any criminal act. Failure to report the activities is in itself a crime,” said Bettridge.

It was for this reason that they had opened the case.

The were also demanding that the criminal investigation extend to the other 17 banks implicated in the collusion. “It is our intention to charge all of those implicated banks at the appropriate time,” he said.

“Why is the National Prosecuting Authority so quiet on these white collar crimes while billions have been eroded from our economy, thereby affecting all South Africans, especially the poor? Are they (banks) untouchable?”

The foundation urged the NPA to “investigate the possibility that these crimes are regarded as acts of treason.”

Confirming the registration of the criminal case earlier, Colonel John Romer, deputy commissioner of the Point police station, said it would be transferred to the Hawks for investigation.

The Mercury