South Africa: Apartheid's Banks No Closer to Facing Justice


Without the help of European banks, the apartheid government would not have been able to buy arms and continue its campaign of violence and oppression. Between 1977 and 1994, countless people lost their lives while the banks essentially profited from their deaths. What can be done to hold the banks accountable for their role in supporting apartheid? For the past 12 months, Open Secrets and CALS have pursued justice in Europe, only to find that some of these banks have infiltrated the very mechanisms meant to investigate them.

In the late 1970s, the apartheid regime was doing everything in its power to maintain its rule by fear and by force -- waging war everywhere from the streets of the townships to the borders of neighbouring states.

Images of 13-year-old Hector Pieterson's lifeless body, and reports of Steve Biko being beaten and left to die naked in a police cell, were typical examples of the state-sponsored violence of the time. News of these incidents sparked a renewed outrage around the world and prompted the international community to intensify its response to apartheid.

In 1977, the United Nations Security Council introduced mandatory arms sanctions against South Africa. The point was obvious: Isolate...

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