The Competition Tribunal granted interim measures to the Sekunjalo group, preventing three banks from closing their bank accounts and ordering five others to reopen already closed bank accounts.
In a statement, the court said the interim measure will stand for a period of six months, pending the conclusion of a Competition Commission investigation into a restrictive practices complaint filed by the Sekunjalo Group against banks in december.
A total of 36 claimants – including Dr Iqbal Survé, chairman of the Sekunjalo group – lodged an application for interim measures against nine banks, alleging that the behavior of the banks, by terminating the banking relationship with them or by refusing to provide them with banking and payment services, constituted “abuse of a dominant position and collusive conduct contrary to the Competition Act”.
The nine banks are Nedbank, Absa, FirstRand Bank, Sasfin Bank, Access Bank, Standard Bank, Mercantile Bank, a division of Capitec Bank, Bidvest Bank and Investec Bank.
The banks had argued that Sekunjalo was a high-risk client who had been implicated in wrongdoing in the report of the Mpati commission of inquiry into the public investment company. Survé and Sekunjalo denied that the report drew adverse conclusions against them.
The plaintiffs had asked the court for an interim order prohibiting the closure of their existing bank accounts – where the accounts had not been closed – and ordering the banks to reinstate accounts that had already been closed.
Among the exclusions are Survé’s personal accounts with Nedbank and Investec that are not related to any business activity.
The court said a public version of the reasons for its decision will be available once any claimed confidential information contained in the reasons is finalized.
No costs order was issued.