By Annalise Kempen
In October 2000, a police official was seriously injured when he foiled a bank robbery in the Bedfordview centre near Johannesburg after two men robbed the Standard Bank of a large amount of cash. The police official, who was near the bank, noticed the men and a shoot-out ensued between him and the robbers. Both robbers were shot dead while the officer was seriously wounded in the chest (Sapa, 2000). What happened at Standard Bank was unfortunately not an isolated incident in those years.
It was not long before the four major banks at the time, namely Absa, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank, realised that fighting bank robberies required a concerted effort as all the banks were being targeted and bank robberies were a key critical issue for them at the time. The banks decided that instead of investing resources to deal with these crimes individually, they should pool their resources. After all, the perpetrators didn't care about which bank they targeted, they just went where the opportunities were. Once the banks realised that they were dealing with the same type of criminals, they established a unit within the Banking Association to which each bank seconded staff members.
Once this unit got going, they realised that they couldn't only focus on bank robberies, but that they had bigger challenges and realised that organised bank crime should be their focus. The picture was starting to take shape - the banks started conceptualising how they could form a company and what its capabilities would be to help them fight organised bank-related crime collaboratively. The banks realised that to fight these crimes they had to work together, and that is what led to the birth of the South African Banking Risk Information Centre - or, as we have all come to know it over the past 15 years, SABRIC. Initially, it was registered as a private company, and later as a non-profit organisation, as it had been established for a specific purpose.
Servamus asked SABRIC's CEO, Kalyani Pillay, to tell us more about the role that she and her team are playing in lending a helping hand to the banks and cash-in-transit companies as well as (ultimately) to law enforcement in dealing with organised bank-related crime.
SABRIC's original mandate is still very much its current mandate, although the organisation has restructured along the way in order to render a better service to their members and to align it with the current crime landscape. Their mandate covers four areas.
The first area of responsibility is to host and manage a central crime risk information repository. This means that all bank-related criminal incidences perpetrated against bank clients (SABRIC's members [see below]) are captured onto SABRIC's database. This repository contains all crime risk information pertaining to bank-related crime, albeit it violent, commercial or financial crime, for analysis for SABRIC's members. With this information at hand, SABRIC develops crime risk mitigation products that enable its members to fight organised bank-related crime and to mitigate risks internally. Being privy to industry trends and information empowers them as individual commercial banks to deal with these crimes.