The SA mine minister, Mosebenzi Zwane is pleading with Nedbank lender to reconsider its decision to cut ties with companies linked to the Gupta family, whose close ties with President Jacob Zuma is strongly kicked against by South Africans.
This is according to Nedbank which revealed in a statement that the minister urged it to reconsider its decision against the Gupta family businesses.
Nedbank, in a letter to Oakbay Investments (Pty) Ltd. dated April 7, stated that a continued relationship with the Gupta-controlled company would “create material business risks that could pose significant reputational risks.”
In an affidavit filed at the Pretoria High Court by Chief Executive Officer Mike Brown on Monday. The bank gave the company 30 days to find alternative bankers.
The bank’s decision came after the finance minister told the court that he has no right to prevent banks from cutting clients. The minister stated this after the Guptas asked him to intervene in the country’s four banks’ decision to close their accounts.
The lenders, including Standard Bank, Barclays Africa, and FirstRand Ltd. have said they agree with Gordhan’s stance. Nedbank has to consider international banking rules on anti-money laundering, bribery and corruption when dealing with customers, Brown said in the court papers.
Mike Brown agreed to meet Zwane in May as the minister was appointed to head an inter-ministerial committee that also included Gordhan and Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant to probe why the banks withdrew from doing business with the Guptas. Zwane told Brown that the finance and labour ministers were aware of the meeting and had mandated him to proceed in their absence.
The meeting included Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and Mzwanele Manyi, an adviser to Muthambi and a former government spokesperson, according to an email from the committee secretary that was attached to the affidavit. The e-mail also claimed that Oliphant attended the meeting when she hadn’t, Brown said.
“The overall impression I came away with was that the purpose of the meeting was to determine whether there was a co-ordinated decision among the major South African banks to terminate the accounts of persons affiliated with the Gupta family,” Brown said, “and whether Nedbank would consider engaging with the relevant entities as their primary banker.”
Zwane’s spokesperson was unable to respond immediately to a phone call and email seeking comments on the matter.
Zuma “reprimanded” Zwane after the minister issued a statement in September that Cabinet had decided to set up a judicial investigation into the country’s banking industry following the decision to close the Guptas’ accounts. The presidency said on September 2 that the statement was issued in Zwane’s personal capacity and didn’t reflect the views of Cabinet.