Following calls by the Gupta family for Finance Minister Gordhan Pravin to intervene in it’s case with SA banks, Gordhan tells Guptas family business, Oakbay to take their case to court if they have nothing to hide.
The finance minister revealed on Friday that he had met with Oakbay Investments CEO Nazeem Howa, telling him he could not interfere in the company’s ordeal with the states major banks and had urged them to refer their case to court.
Pravin Gordhan said in a written reply to a parliamentary Question, that Howa requested a meeting in two letters dated in April to ask the Treasury to intervene in the dispute and any job losses that could occur at the holding company and its associated companies because of the decision by the banks to close Oakbay’s bank accounts
The Gupta family and its businesses had since the incidence in April, cried foul over the matter, saying they were innocent victims in a political conspiracy, and have insisted that if there was any evidence against them in the matter, it should be presented and taken to court.
It however remained a mystery why the Guptas have not taken the move to battle it out with the banks in court; and For Gordhan, asking him to intervene in the case is illegal,
“There are legislative and regulatory impediments to any registered bank discussing client-related matters with the minister of finance or any third party,” Gordhan stated in his reply to parliamentary questions.
“The minister of finance does not have the power to intervene in a bank-client relationship (and I pointed out that I am advised by legal opinion in this respect).” Gordhan tells Guptas in the reply statement.
The minister further stressed that if Oakbay has nothing to hide it should approach the courts.
“I pointed out that the best, and only, course of action for any corporate client would be for the company to approach a competent court to seek the reasons for the closure of their accounts, and to establish its rights and to deal with any alleged transgressions of the law or of the Code of Banking Practice, which cover the process that banks have agreed to when closing accounts.”
Minister Gordhan tells Guptas further that only at the court would its business, Oakbay correct any wrong perceptions that any bank may have about it, “Only at the court would the business ensure it is treated fairly”
Gordhan’s statement followed a statement by Mineral Resources Minister Mosibenze Zwane on September 1 that a judicial investigation into banks would be conducted because of their refusal to continue doing business with the Gupta family.
A ministerial committee was later established to investigate the matter, headed up by Gordhan, Zwane and public enterprises minister Lynne Brown.
But Gordhan did not get involved with the investigation, with the minister saying his time and presence was needed elsewhere.