Michael Oatley, the former chairperson of CIEX, has told the media former South African Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni is being economical with the truth.
In Mboweni’s long-winded style, he wrote on Facebook that in “1998, a British bounty hunter [former British spy Michael Oatley]” informed the ANC “that there was a debt that the ‘Boers’ had to repay the new South Africa”.
Mboweni continued: “He [Oatley] produced to us documents that showed that Absa was liable to pay back about R1.5 billion with interest over the years. He, in return, would receive 10% as a fee for helping us retrieve these ‘stolen’ monies, and Oatley’s offer for assistance was rejected.”
The former governor said upon assuming the reins at the central bank, he instituted “an independent investigation headed by a judge”, which recommended that the matter be closed.
The “bounty hunter” told Independent Media the investigation team never explicitly stated it had not found it necessary to pursue the matter further.
Oatley reportedly said that, in fact, the team never arrived at the conclusion that the transactions among Bankorp, Absa and Reserve Bank were “illegal”.
Oatley further contended that Mboweni’s version of events was inaccurate, pointing out that at some point he wrote a letter to Mboweni regarding the findings of the special team that the bailout was irregular.
“In his reply to me dated 15 April 2002, Mboweni did not dispute that the opportunity for recovery existed, as indeed it still does, along with other opportunities for restitution,” Oatley reportedly said. “The process has moved on to such an extent that we want this matter closed.”
However, in his Facebook post, Mboweni emphasised it was the opinion of one panel, and their door had always been open for a different authority whose investigations gave a different outcome. “Yes, I must admit that a different panel might have come to a different conclusion, as these matters normally are the case.”