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Capitec Falls as Regulator Refers Possible Fine to Tribunal

May 30 (Bloomberg) -- Capitec Bank Holdings Ltd., South Africa’s second-largest provider of unsecured loans, dropped to its lowest this year after it said the National Credit Regulator has referred a probe into the bank’s alleged contraventions of credit laws to a tribunal.

The stock fell as much as 3.5 percent, the lowest since last December, and closed 1.6 percent lower at 186.90 rand by 5 p.m. in Johannesburg trading. The regulator hasn’t disclosed details of the probe.

“On May 28, a notice was received from the NCR referring the matter to the National Consumer Tribunal,” Capitec, based in Stellenbosch, east of Cape Town, said in a statement today. “It remains impracticable to estimate its financial effect or the amount of any possible outflow,” the bank said, without disclosing how much the regulator may want to fine the lender.

African Bank Investments Ltd., the largest provider of loans not backed by assets, said in February the regulator wanted to fine it 300 million rand ($28 million) for fraud carried out at one of its branches. African Bank, like Capitec, is disputing the allegations. While the NCR has probed unsecured lenders, banks including Standard Bank Group Ltd. have reported an increase in bad debts as unemployment rises, the economy slows and consumers struggle to repay loans.

“Capitec needs to be more transparent,” said Neville Chester, who helps oversee the equivalent of $42 billion at Coronation Fund Managers Ltd. in Cape Town. “Banking is a trust business so you have to be very cautious not to scare the market, but at the same time you have to communicate.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Renee Bonorchis in Johannesburg at rbonorchis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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