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Closing the Net on South Africa’s Biggest Bank Saga

A number of people have been arrested by police investigating one of South Africa’s most notorious corruption scandals, the looting and collapse of VBS Mutual Bank. VBS, which held the savings of many disadvantaged people and local municipalities, collapsed with more than $150m in debts in 2018. Much of the money had been siphoned into private bank accounts and some spent on property or luxury cars, investigators found. Four people were detained in early morning raids on Wednesday in the provinces of Gauteng and Limpopo, with further arrests anticipated within 24 hours. One suspect is in quarantine after contracting Covid-19 and is expected to be detained shortly. Those targeted by the Hawks, an elite investigation unit, include the bank’s former chairman, other senior executives and an auditor from the accounting firm KPMG. They face charges of racketeering, corruption, fraud and theft, and could be jailed for life. Prosecutors described a “pattern of racketeering activity” and dozens more were implicated in the alleged theft. These include officials of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.