Rand manipulation allegations a ‘distraction’ – Standard Bank

Standard Bank has hit back at allegations that it manipulated the rand and is trying to collapse the government alongside other private companies while having no interest in the development of South Africa. 

Standard Bank South Africa CEO, Lungisa Fuzile, told 702 that accusations of the private sector trying to undermine the government are a “distraction that does not serve anyone”.

“The most important thing now is to try and ensure we work with everyone to clear the air and get people to understand what happened and correct whatever misunderstandings and misinformation there is,” Fuzile said. 

It would be counter-productive to respond to the accusations from the Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, with anger, and Standard Bank does not want to be drawn into a mud-slinging match. 

Ntshavheni made her comments in light of Standard Chartered Bank being fined R43 million for manipulating the value of the rand against the US dollar.

Standard Chartered is one of 28 banks prosecuted by the Commission for manipulating the USD/ZAR currency pair.

South Africa’s biggest banks, including Standard Bank, Absa, FirstRand, Investec, and Nedbank, formed part of the Competition Commission’s investigation.

The Minister said that the government has maintained “that the performance of the rand and sometimes the performance of the economy has been manipulated by the private sector, which has no interest in the development of this country”. 

“They continue to engineer and do machinations to make sure that the government collapses.”

“That’s why they also self-feed in the narrative that there’s a collapsing state and a collapsing economy because that’s what they wish for, and their actions do that.”

However, she said the South African economy remains resilient despite the private sector’s efforts. 

Standard Bank South Africa CEO Lungisa Fuzile

“At issue here is that Standard Bank and the private sector more broadly have been accused of doing the opposite of what all of us stand for,” Fuzile said. 

“It is unfortunate that confusion has been created around the fact that businesses need a thriving economy for them to deliver on their objects and contribute to the advancement of South Africa.”

Fuzile explained that businesses, including Standard Bank, have partnered with the government to tackle three core issues facing South Africa. Namely, load-shedding, the logistics crisis, and crime and corruption. 

Business is committed to working with the government to resolve the significant constraints on economic activity in the country. 

“This distraction does not serve anyone, and that is why we, as Standard Bank, elected to engage with the issue and clarify that, as an institution, we have had no role in the manipulation of the currency and have not seen any shred of evidence to that effect.”

Fuzile said the rand’s manipulation by those who admitted to the charges was “driven by greed among a handful of traders rather than a decision to bring down the government”.

Fuzile’s comments follow a statement from Standard Bank where it hit back at media and social media related to its involvement in currency manipulation.

“These comments incorrectly link unrelated and unfounded allegations with the Competition Commission inquiry currently under adjudication before the Competition Appeal Court,” it said.

“Standard Bank has not manipulated the value of the rand. Standard Bank has not engaged in any anti-competitive or criminal conduct. All such claims are false.”

It added that it will continue to use every avenue provided to it in law to defend itself against these false allegations.