Letters

DearEditor: Good for the goose


Good for the goose…

What does it say about the media industry’s belief in self-regulation if Independent Newspapers’ CEO and editors decline to go via the Press Ombudsman and instead go straight to the courts with their grievance about Noseweek’s reporting?

If they don’t believe in the current system, then why should anyone else?

Barbara Williams
Cape Town

Arms and the man

While reading Terry Crawford-Browne’s article in nose154, I noted with interest that parts of the Arms Deal were apparently negotiated as far back as 1995 by Thabo Mbeki.

If so, then surely Nelson Mandela must have known about this as head of state at the time?

If he did know about these corrupt dealings, then either he must have been involved in sharing the spoils, or he must have condoned and been content with what was taking place?

Nick
Howick

Terry Crawford-Browne’s response: I regret that Mandela was not the saint we would like to believe. I don’t want to go too far down that road, but it does come up repeatedly in Eye On The Diamonds. When he left office after only one term, his foundations were estimated to be worth over R1 billion. Within months of his release, he was pumping the likes of Suharto, Gaddafi, and the Saudis – and selling out South Africa’s human rights and foreign policies on the basis of contributions to ANC funds.

Of course he knew about the arms deal corruption, and Mbeki’s involvements. As early as August 1994, Archbishop Tutu raised concerns about the arms trade and the “gravy train”.


Nothing to hide

It is with much interest that I read the letter from a Ms Tessa Horan (she says she is from Calitzdorp but is in fact from Uniondale) that appeared in nose154.

I note that she has opinions about your reporting on the issues surrounding the killing of predatory wild animals. While she is entitled to her views, we stand by the facts reported from our side.

What prompts me to write to you is that she seems to suggest something sinister about my personal life and conduct. She wrote; “There is a lot of controversy surrounding Bool Smuts and if Noseweek is interested in truth, perhaps they should investigate his background.” She also accused us of engaging in sensationalism and untruths about the matter we deal with, namely human/wildlife conflict.

I have since challenged Tessa Horan to place the evidence of her defamation on the table to see if it holds water. She admits it was based on unsubstantiated hearsay.

We have nothing to hide and have met our obligations and commitments. We have no hidden agendas, merely agendas others don’t like. I attach my updated CV and the latest additions to the court case I brought against CapeNature for a declaratory order on the lawfulness of their killing a leopard in the Western Cape.

Dr Bool Smuts
Landmark Foundation

■ I must apologise for alluding to any controversy surrounding Bool Smuts. He is a vigorous campaigner for his cause, which means he is bound to rub his opponents up the wrong way now and then. It is a good cause, but farmers battle to farm where all odds are against them.

Tessa Horan
Uniondale

Half a chance

The article “Block at the Head” (nose154) refers.

To your closing remarks, “which just goes to show that most ANC members either condone corruption or simply don’t read newspapers”, you should add “or would be partaking in such corruption given half (nay, quarter) a chance”!

Nick McConnell
Howick

Bar bar black sheep

Would I wish to make use of the services of the professionals who feature in your story “Johannesburg Bar agog at rape and blackmail allegations” in nose153?

No. And the bit about the Joburg Bar being eligible is a laugh-a-minute. Been there… may get the T-shirt. By the way, who is Irvine?

Rory Nottingham
Port Elizabeth

Pam Irvine is secretary of the Johannesburg Bar.

■ Clearly your article alleging misconduct by members of the Joburg Bar has been written on the version of one party, who appears to be disgruntled and bitter.

I am bewildered that such a damaging article has no input from the person (Advocate Riley) who you so clearly defame. I would love to read his side of the story.

As a fellow professional, I would most definitely make use of his services. He is more than competent and an honest, hard-working professional.

I suspect an apology has been demanded and will appear in your next publication.  

Greg Da Silva
Johannesburg

Noseweek’s account was based on the submissions of all the parties to the Johannesburg Bar Council. The real question is: when will that august body finally move its arse and make a ruling?Ed.

Bank immunity

Barclays was fined a record £290 million for repeatedly distorting basic financial data. Up to 40 global banks face being named and shamed.

Between 2005 and 2009, Barclays traders and managers repeatedly made “false reports” in order to push the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) – the interest rate that banks pay on money they borrow from one another – and other interest-rate measures higher or lower than their true rate.

The manipulations helped increase traders’ profits and protected Barclays’s reputation. They also raise the prospect of consumers and businesses paying the wrong rate of interest: “a casino that was rigging the wheels and loading the dice”.

Mr Diamond, who was paid more than £17 million last year, said: “I am sorry that some people acted in a manner not consistent with our culture and values.

“The bank has disciplined several staff and the settlement is expected to see more employees leave.”

Just a fine. No criminal investigation. Nobody goes to jail. Not one person.

Conclusion: different legal systems, depending on your wealth and capital might.

Gabrie Jansen
Kempton Park

Your insight is not new.

What is new, is that you and I – and half the world – have finally realised what an enormously negative effect the misconduct of the banksters has had on the welfare of the world, and that the immunity from exposure and sanction they have been afforded until now is positively outrageous – and dangerous.
Ed.

Test the tester

I recently wrote the regulatory financial broker’s exams RE1 and RE5. On enquiry, the
examining body, Moonstone, advised that the questions and answers and the required pass mark of 65% were agreed by the Financial Services Board (FSB), and that the exams were set by academics and professionals.

On enquiry with the FSB, I was advised that all exams and regulations are agreed by the Advisory Committee and I must refer to the Board Notices or the Gazette.

Who is the “Advisory Committee”?

I asked the Financial Intermediaries Association (FIA), our industry body. And I contacted people from each of the four major insurers (who wish to remain anonymous). They had only been invited to “make an input” but were not members of any advisory body.

I am concerned that exam questions and answers  are ambiguous and thereby are designed to trap and fail candidates.

And who determined the pass-mark at 65% when the required pass mark at our universities is 50%?

Moonstone is a compliance practice approved by the FSB and the “Advisory Committee”. As an examining body, should not this approval vest with the Council for Higher Education?

Mr Joe Kotze of the FIA has advised me that:
• The FIA , our industry body, was not contracted by the FSB to assist with the compilation of the RE’s Level1 questions;
• Moonstone was the only examination body to draw up the exam questions;
• The FIA was part of a panel of experts who tested some of the questions during October 2010. This panel gave feedback to the FSB and voiced their concerns about the difficulty and ambiguity of some of the questions;
• The FIA engaged with  Prof Robert Vivian of the University of Johannesburg on various aspects of the exams;
• The industry will only know the impact of the exams at the end of September 2012;
• The FSB are also concerned about the outcome, as they will have to report  to the Treasury and to Parliament;
• To date, FIA is not quite sure what the FSB will do, pending the outcome of the exams;
• The FIA has made several suggestions to the FSB and they will “consider all their options”.

In the meantime, the sole-proprietor brokers and agents have to suffer the threat of having to close their businesses. In 2004 there were over 40,000 people in the business; today there are only about 12,000 left.

In recent years, various similar strategies and interventions have put paid to the livelihood of sole-proprietor pharmacists, medical practioners, architects and engineers, the financial service assurance agent… as well as  small operators in the real estate business.

So, who is Moonstone, that this organisation can, as sole examining body of the FSB, get to determine who can practise and who can’t?

AS
Durban

■ Please could you investigate the RE1 & RE5 exams that all financial advisors, planners and brokers have been required to write over the past year. There is something not right about the manner in which they have been launched on my industry.

The exam fee is R900 per entrant so the FSB stands to make a cool R126m if everyone writes it. (140,000 persons at R900 each!) And that is only for the first run.Many may have to write the exam a second or third time. (It is estimated that barely 20% passed the first round.)

The exams have been foisted on my industry in a very autocratic manner by the FSB – and if we fail, we will not be allowed to work.

I am not against the idea of a professional exam. I have a degree, have passed several exams for my work and have a lifetime’s experience in the industry.

Professional qualifications are vital to my industry, but the material must be workable and user-friendly and we should be given a reasonable opportunity of obtaining a pass mark.

I passed the exam, but what I studied in preparation had nothing to do with what I do in my daily job; it held no benefit for me, and none for my clients either.

M
Cape Town

Moonstone (Pty) Ltd is based in Stellenbosch. Its directors are Hjalmar Bekker and Jansie Moolman. The company has various divisions, the best known being its FAIS compliance practice. (It also publishes an online newsletter called Moonstone Investment Indicators.)

Spokesman Paul Kruger told Noseweek that Moonstone was one of three firms that had been contracted by the FSB to perform the examination and certification function (the others being F P Institute and Leselo – the latter being focussed on the banking sector); Moonstone had drawn up the syllabus and questions for the Level 1 exam, which was based on legislation relevant to the financial services industry, such as the FAIS Act and the General Code of Conduct for practitioners contained in the regulations.

Asked to whom the R900 exam fee accrued, Kruger said the FSB got
R20 and Moonstone the remaining R880
. – Ed.

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Submitted by : Jennifer Spencer of DUNVEGAN on 2012-08-30 09:49:09
Moonstone matter - is this not like giving the hen house key to the fox - it is in Moonstone's interest for the brokers to fail so they can get additional income.

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