Competition Tribunal turns down Absa’s bid against Sekunjalo entities

Absa told to reinstate five Sekunjalo bank accounts.

Absa told to reinstate five Sekunjalo bank accounts.

Published Dec 22, 2023


The Sekunjalo Group has welcomed the Competition Tribunal decision to dismiss Absa Bank’s application for variation in the ongoing matter involving Sekunjalo and various banks.

The Tribunal on Thursday said it had dismissed an application by Absa to vary the Tribunal’s reasons and order in an interim relief application which was brought by the Sekunjalo Group, comprising 36 applicants, against nine banks including Absa.

In the interim relief application, the Tribunal ordered Absa to reinstate/restore the bank accounts of all the Sekunjalo entities that banked with Absa, except for nine entities that had voluntarily agreed to the closure of their Absa bank accounts.

“In the variation application, Absa sought to add five other Sekunjalo entities, bringing to 14 the number of entities whose bank accounts Absa need not reinstate/restore and who, according to Absa, had voluntarily agreed to the closure of their bank accounts,” the Tribunal said.

Absa alleged that it had been erroneously ordered by the Tribunal to reinstate the bank accounts of the five respondents.

In order to rectify this alleged error or omission, Absa sought a variation of the Tribunal’s reasons and order to allow it not to reinstate/restore an additional five bank accounts.

The Tribunal found, based on Absa’s own submissions and the strength of the evidence Absa placed before it in the interim relief application, that there is no ambiguity or error in its reasons and order.

“This is because Absa in its papers specifically indicated that nine entities had agreed to close their Absa bank accounts.

“This did not include the five respondents.”

The Tribunal noted: “... any omission of the five respondents from the Tribunal’s Reasons and Order, is not a mutual error, nor is it an error attributable to the Tribunal... According to Absa, the error is because of Absa’s own drafting oversight.”

The Tribunal also noted that it is in the public interest to have certainty and predictability regarding the Tribunal’s orders and decisions.

“This should be departed from in the interest of justice only where there are exceptional circumstances.

“Absa also did not provide any evidence of exceptional circumstances that would warrant the Tribunal exercising its discretion to vary its reasons and order. Accordingly, the Tribunal has found that there is no basis to grant Absa’s application for variation and has dismissed the application.”

The Sekunjalo Group in a statement said it maintains its position that there has been a concerted effort by the banks to terminate its group banking facilities.

“The banks have a history of collusion so it is not unreasonable to believe they have done so in our case.”

Cape Times