June 19, 2017 / 1:09 PM / in 3 months

S.Africa watchdog says Barclays Africa must repay $86.44 mln over bailouts

A women uses an ATM at a branch of Barclay's South African subsidiary Absa bank in Johannesburg, South Africa March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

PRETORIA (Reuters) - Barclays Africa Group unduly benefited from apartheid-era bailouts and must repay 1.125 billion rand ($86.44 million), South Africa’s anti-graft watchdog said on Monday, though the bank denied any wrongdoing.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in January reopened a probe of Absa, a unit of Barclays Africa, following a wider report published last November by her predecessor.

She said on Monday that the probe had found that the apartheid government breached the constitution by supplying Bankorp, which was acquired by Absa in 1992, with a series of bailouts from 1985 to 1995.

Absa said in a statement it had not received a copy of the report and denied any wrongdoing, saying it “met all its obligations in respect of the loan provided by the South African Reserve Bank by October 1995.”

“Once we have read it we will consider our legal options including seeking a High Court review. It is our firm position that there is no obligation to pay anything to the South African government,” Absa said.

Shares in Barclays Africa fell 2.61 percent to 142.68 rand by 1253 GMT.

($1 = 12.7941 rand)

Reporting by Dinky Mkhize in Pretoria and Nqobile Dludla in Johannesburg; Editing by James Macharia

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