New banking scandal reminds us of ironclad guarantee for everlasting ignorance 

Having spent most of the past 48 hours on planes and in seminars, I’d missed the immediate uproar that followed the SA Competition Commission’s charge of collusion against 14 international banks, and SA’s Absa, Investec and Standard banks.

The popular press – egged on by politicians – has gone to town on the story, suggesting a massive local banking conspiracy. But after a little digging, it soon became apparent the Commission hasn’t uncovered Johannesburg’s newest den of iniquity. Rather, they are now formally picking up on the US’s long-running investigation into crooked forex traders.

Among the traders who have turned State Witness in New York is a former Standard Bank and Barclays Plc dealer who specialised in emerging market currencies, including the Rand. The self confessed crook obviously couldn’t land a willing accomplice at either FirstRand or Nedbank as neither of these members of SA’s Big Five are implicated.

I’ve unpacked the story for Biznews Premium subscribers this morning. The crooks need to be named and shamed. But jumping to conclusions never helps. To paraphrase Herbert Spencer, an ironclad guarantee for everlasting ignorance is contempt prior to investigation.

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