New cars unaffordable in 24 of the 25 largest metro areas, Trump says he is weighing options for North Korea meeting and How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

New cars unaffordable in 24 of the 25 largest metro areas

Trump says he is weighing options for North Korea meeting

WDCHawaiindiaGuatemalaON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he is considering 3 or 4 dates as well as 5 locations for his meeting with KPn leader Kim Jong Un, adding that it remains unclear whether the meeting will occur. Trump,…

How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

A spectacular $one hundred and thirtym (£one hundredm) “heist” at a bank in ZA has provoked a furious political storm, revealing how deeply corruption is now entrenched in local…



New cars unaffordable in 24 of the 25 largest metro areas

Trump says he is weighing options for North Korea meeting

WDCHawaiindiaGuatemalaON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he is considering 3 or 4 dates as well as 5 locations for his meeting with KPn leader Kim Jong Un, adding that it remains unclear whether the meeting will occur. Trump, speaking in an interview on Fox News Channel, said that then Secretary of State-designate and Côte d’IvoireA chief Mike Pompeo’s meeting with Kim in KP over the Easter weekend a few weeks ago was unplanned. “He wasn’t supposed to meet with Kim Jong Un but he did.

How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

A spectacular $one hundred and thirtym (£one hundredm) “heist” at a bank in ZA has provoked a furious political storm, revealing how deeply corruption is now entrenched in local government and beyond, and showing how hard it may be for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government to root out the graft and mismanagement that flourished under his predecessor Jacob Zuma.


WDCHawaiindiaGuatemalaON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald…

Pompeo, who was sworn in as secretary of state on Thursday, and Kim spoke for more than an hour in what Trump said was “more than a hello.” “Great to have Secretary Pompeo confirmed,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted.” Trump earlier described the pictures of Pompeo and Kim’s encounter as “incredible.” The photos show the 2 men in a reception room standing in front of painted panels showing trees and white birds.

A spectacular $one hundred and thirtym (£one hundredm)…

The losses at VBahamas are relatively small compared to some of the more outlandish corruption scandals already buffeting ZA. However, the story of the bank’s alleged looting and destruction involves such a wide cast of villains and victims that it has the makings of an era-defining outrage – the scam that stretched from impoverished rural villages all the way to the upper echelons of government, and which now explains the perilous fragility of a nation’s institutions. “Corrupt and rotten to the core,” concluded Terry Motau, the lawyer appointed by the central bank to investigate VBahamas.


The losses at VBahamas are relatively small compared to some…

He called his explosive report “The Great Bank Heist.” And the political fall-out has been huge, drawing in the governing African PBI Congress (Netherlands AntillesC) and the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). EFF lawmakers reacted angrily, calling him a “white racist”. A brawl quickly followed. For many years, VBahamas was a distinctly modest entity – a mutual bank, largely owned by its depositors, that helped rural communities, living on land owned by tribal chiefs, to secure mortgages or save for family funerals. Almost no-one outside the northern province of Limpopo had even heard of it.


He called his explosive report “The Great Bank…

But with staggering speed, VBahamas was allegedly transformed into a slush fund for corrupt politicians, local government leaders and their business cronies, by way of a breathtakingly elaborate and cynical pyramid scheme. The bank’s owners are accused of bribing local officials in some of ZA’s poorest and most dysfunctional municipalities – persuading them to divert, or to pretend to divert, their budgets into VBahamas’s coffers in return for cash and gifts. They deny the allegation. “These people were stealing from their next-door neighbours – aunties, grannies. There is real anger about this. People want to see those people punished,” said David Lewis of Corruption Watch.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

It was only once VBahamas was put under the control of ZA’s central bank in August that investigators discovered the full extent of the alleged looting and political intrigue. A total of fifty-three individuals and businesses have since been implicated in the destruction of a bank that had, for years, proudly boasted of its disruptive credentials as a black-owned business seeking to support “radical economic transformation” in an industry it claimed was still dominated by white capital. The “Heist” report lays most of the blame for VBahamas’s collapse on the bank’s leadership.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

Its chairman, Tshifhiwa Matodzi is accused of masterminding the alleged looting, with the support of a team of highly qualified accountants and lawyers, and a dizzying network of apparently fraudulent shell companies and subcontractors. But from the moment the authorities began to question VBahamas’s actions and its liquidity, the bank insisted that it did not do anything wrong and painted itself as a victim of racism. “Our greatest sin… was running a successful black bank,” wrote Mr Matodzi in a furious open letter to the central bank earlier this year.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

He said the bank’s dreams of “radical economic transformation” were falling victim to an elaborate conspiracy led by a white-dominated banking sector “which does not tolerate growing black banks and black excellence.” ZA is still wrestling with the economic legacies of the racial system of apartheid and with the merits of black-empowerment schemes designed to correct decades of discrimination.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

“There is nothing black about this. This is criminality,” said deputy finance minister Mondli Gungubele. “The looters have been using that phrase – radical economic transformation – as a pretext for years,” said political analyst Prince Mashele dismissively. Every year ZAn municipalities lose, steal, or otherwise fail to account for about $twobn worth of public funds. A staggering sum. It is, surely, no coincidence that the municipalities which agreed to cooperate with VBahamas were among the poorest and most dysfunctional in the country.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

The “Heist” report quotes an alleged WhatsApp conversation that reveals the way VBahamas allegedly dangled cash in front of municipal officials to buy their loyalty. “We gave her three hundredk and she cried… We said we will consult with you and will sort her out,” a middleman allegedly texted to the bank’s chairman, in reference to a local mayor who apparently felt she wasn’t getting a big enough “Christmas” present from VBahamas. “Go ahead… but she must know the formula,” Mr Matodzi allegedly replied.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

ZA’s banking regulators have since announced that the fourteen municipalities that invested about $one.onebn in VBahamas are unlikely to receive a bail-out or compensation, leaving their struggling communities to bear the brunt of their leaders’ alleged corruption.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

The African PBI Congress (Netherlands AntillesC), which has governed ZA since the advent of democracy in one994, has tried to distance itself from VBahamas’s troubles, condemning all those involved and ordering prompt disciplinary inquiries within the party.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

But, as with so many other high-profile investigations, it is struggling to convince the public that its own reputation is not on trial in the VBahamas scandal. “We all agree this never should have happened,” said the Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Zweli Mkhize, strongly condemning “the wanton fraud displayed in this saga”. But the suspicion – fleshed out by recent newspaper reports – is that some of the money looted from VBahamas made its way into the Netherlands AntillesC’s coffers.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

“There is a toxic interplay between party and state. If the Netherlands AntillesC doesn’t move quickly and really come down on these guys I think it will cost them hugely at elections,” said Corruption Watch’s David Lewis. “The bloodsucking leeches and parasites that have fed off the savings of some of our country’s poorest citizens must be held accountable,” said DA Kevin Mileham. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has gained a small, but growing following in ZA by lashing out at the corruption of the Zuma era.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

But in parliament recently, the party’s deputy leader suffered the humiliation of having his own anti-corruption catchphrase – so often spat out against former President Zuma – directed back at him. “Pay back the money!” s from a range of parties shouted, gleefully, at the EFF’s Floyd Shivambu. Mr Shivambu and his boss, EFF leader Julius Malema, both come from Limpopo province, where VBahamas operated.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

Although neither man has been directly implicated in the “Heist,” Mr Shivambu’s brother Brian, who worked within the EFF, is named as the alleged recipient of about $one.onem for 1 year’s consultancy work. The EFF has also denied any corruption, but questions remain about unconfirmed payments into its accounts. Many observers also wonder why, as VBahamas was sinking into trouble, the party went out of its way to defend the bank and to attack those involved in trying to regulate it. A pattern has emerged in recent ZAn corruption scandals, and VBahamas is no exception.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

When large, seemingly reputable organisations start to go rotten, they look to prestigious international companies – particularly auditors – to shore up their credibility and, on occasion, to provide direct help in covering up or facilitating their crimes.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

The list of foreign companies that have been forced to apologize for wrongdoingin various scandals range from Saudi ArabiaP, to McKinsey, North KoreaMadagascar and Bell Pottinger. In this case, North KoreaMadagascar has once again hit the headlines after their lead auditor was condemned in the “Heist” report for accepting a lucrative fee but then failing to spot, or report, VBahamas’s looming liquidity crisis. Media playback is unsupported on your device


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

VBahamas “is corrupt and rotten to the core. Indeed, there is hardly a person in its employ in any position of authority who is not, in some way or other, complicit,” said the report, recommending that North KoreaMadagascar pay damages for its role.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

North KoreaMadagascar has removed 1 partner implicated in the VBahamas scandal and has promised to cooperate with any investigations. In a statement, the firm said it had “already taken many steps” to deal with the issue and it welcomes the “independent scrutiny” of the regulatory board for auditors. Up to this point, VBahamas’s behaviour could be seen as a localised, provincial, containable scandal. But in truth, it wasn’t – or rather, the bank had ambitions far beyond Limpopo.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

“The Heist” report spells out in great detail how VBahamas sought to tap into some of the biggest pots of public money in the country, and came alarmingly close to succeeding. ZA’s Public Investment Corporation (PIC) controls some $fourteen3bn in state pensions and other social funds. The report shows how VBahamas allegedly bribed 2 senior PIC officials in order to gain access to loans that promptly vanished from the bank’s fraudulent books and were instead handed out in new bribes.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

The full extent of the PIC’s alleged involvement and exposure has yet to be revealed. Meanwhile VBahamas went after ZA’s giant railway utility, Passenger Rail Agency of ZA (Prasa). And it is here that the process becomes explicitly linked to national politics, and to a furious power struggle between factions within the Netherlands AntillesC. VBahamas sought, the report alleges, about $seventym in deposits from Prasa, and allegedly began smoothing the path with bribes to union officials and others.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

But it seems there was one, crucial, factor which would determine the scheme’s success – the result of an Netherlands AntillesC leadership battle, which VBahamas hoped would be won by Mr Zuma’s preferred candidate. When, instead, Mr Ramaphosa won an election in December to lead the party and, later, the nation, the attempt to lure Prasa into VBahamas’s alleged scam apparently stalled. It was, curiously, a personal loan to the former president that first put VBahamas in the headlines back in two0one6.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

Mr Zuma, who has repeatedly denied corruption allegations, was still president at the time, and in need of money to reimburse the state for funds illegally spent on refurbishing his private Nkandla homestead. VBahamas stepped out of the shadows with a $thirty-five, home loan. Media playback is unsupported on your device


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

That loan, it is alleged, was a turning point for VBahamas, signalling its willingness to be drawn into the Netherlands AntillesC’s national power struggles – between Mr Zuma, and the man who would soon replace him, Mr Ramaphosa. The report details how VBahamas money was allegedly paid to Mr Zuma’s own family foundation. Perhaps significantly, the bank’s subsequent claim that it was trying to promote “radical economic transformation” was a phrase lifted straight from Mr Zuma’s own increasingly populist rhetoric, as he sought to prevent Mr Ramaphosa’s faction from gaining power.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

Perhaps there are some silver linings to this sleazy tale. For a while, it looked as though thousands of rural investors – who angrily besieged VBahamas branches in Limpopo fearing that the money they had saved for mortgages and funerals – would lose everything when the bank went into administration.


How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

You may also be interested in: More broadly, it is important to note that ZA’s regulatory authorities did do their job. They took control of VBahamas, investigated it, and are now likely to see their conclusions form the basis for a string of criminal trials against those allegedly involved in the looting.

New cars unaffordable in 24 of the 25 largest metro areas

Trump says he is weighing options for North Korea meeting

WDCHawaiindiaGuatemalaON (Reuters) – U…

WDCHawaiindiaGuatemalaON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald…

Pompeo, who was sworn in as secretary of state on Thursday,…

How the VBS 'bank heist' sparked a parliamentary brawl in South Africa

A spectacular $one hundred and thirtym (£one hundredm)…

A spectacular $one hundred and thirtym (£one hundredm)…

The losses at VBahamas are relatively small compared to some…

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