Dispute over apartheid-era bailout escalates in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa's central bank is objecting to calls by the state watchdog agency for changes to be made in the way the bank is run, in escalating fallout from a bank bailout during the apartheid era.

The South African Reserve Bank said Tuesday that its independence and commitment to price stability would be undermined by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's call for a constitutional amendment stating the bank's primary role is to promote the socio-economic welfare of South Africans.

At issue is 1.1 billion South African rand ($86.5 million) that the central bank loaned to Bankorp during white minority rule, which ended in 1994.

Mkhwebane says Absa bank (Barclays Africa), which bought Bankorp in 1992, should reimburse the state. Absa says Mkhwebane's report is flawed and denies it owes any money.