shareholder to fight sarb bill

ONE of the SA Reserve Bank's shareholders, Michael Duerr, has declared "outright warfare" on the SA Reserve Bank Amendment Bill announced yesterday by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

ONE of the SA Reserve Bank's shareholders, Michael Duerr, has declared "outright warfare" on the SA Reserve Bank Amendment Bill announced yesterday by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

"This is in contravention of international laws and investment treaties ... this is outright expropriation," he said by telephone from Germany.

Duerr said the bill could not "just be rushed through Parliament" as all shareholders had to be addressed on the matter. He said the move had come as a surprise.

"(SARB governor) Gill Marcus called me on Wednesday last week and we spoke for half an hour." Duerr said he was speaking to his lawyers and would "take it from there".

Earlier Gordhan said Cabinet had approved the bill that would limit shareholders' activities. He said the government would look at the bill in three to six months to iron out any further problems.

It had come to the SARB's attention that a "fringe group" was attempting to improperly mobilise their shares as well as share profits and assets in an attempt to influence decisions.

"It has come to the attention of government that a number of shareholders are involved in activities which could undermine the bank's independence," said Gordhan.

Cabinet considered this unacceptable and had agreed that urgent legislative steps had to be taken to protect the bank's independence.

The bank's shareholders are limited to own 10000 shares, with voting restricted to one vote for every 200 shares held. Each shareholder is allowed a maximum of 50 votes. Gordhan said one of the objectives of the bill was to prevent abuse and the formation of voting blocks by the SARB's "limited number" of shareholders.

"The amendments to the act seek to curb circumvention of this limit by introducing the concept of 'associate' and 'close relative' and extend the restriction to such associated and close relatives. The purpose is to ensure that no shareholder can create a 'bloc' of voting interests, thereby exerting influence that was intended to be limited by setting a maximum number of shares that could be owned and voted on by any individual or institution," he said. - Sapa

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