The Gupta family has called on finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to withdraw the court application implying that the family is linked to a R6.8bn suspicious payment.
The family’s lawyer Van der Merwe and Associates made this demand on Wednesday asking that the minister recalls the application that implicated the family in the R6.8bn suspicious payments and to pay the court costs.
The family said that Gordhan’s R6.8 billion affidavit implicated the family in inappropriate and unlawful conduct.
The lawyer noted that Gordhan would “expose the fiscus not only to loss of tax revenue but also put the burden of mining rehabilitation on the fiscus.”
Van der Merwe said the application was “uncalled for, malicious and nothing but vexatious.” He added that Gordhan was wasting taxpayers’ money with the court application, in “a reckless and inappropriate manner”.
“In order that we do not expose the fiscus unnecessarily to costs, we propose that the application be withdrawn,” the Gupta lawyers said
The family gave the minister until the end of the day to comply. Gordhan, however, indicated through his lawyers that he would not comply, and that the case will move ahead.
The Gupta lawyer later said the family needed time to present its formal version before court, “since the Minister of Finance has chosen that forum”.
“(If the case is not dropped), the matter must proceed and we will gladly do the necessary in order to restore the misrepresentation created by the papers,” the Gupta legal team said.
Meanwhile, FirstRand Ltd. said it agrees with Gordhan that he cannot interfere with their decision to cut ties with the Gupta family.
Gordhan last week asked the High Court to order that he has no authority to stop banks from closing accounts of Gupta-controlled Oakbay Investments, following repeated requests to do so by the family.
Should the banks join Gordhan’s application, it may open the way for lenders to explain their actions, which they have so far refused to do because of client confidentiality issues.
“FirstRand supports the position of the Minister of Finance that he is neither empowered nor obliged by law to intervene,” Johannesburg-based FirstRand said in an e-mailed response to questions. The group’s attorneys will advise FirstRand on how to address the matter, it said.
Speaking on the benefit of the court case on the R6.8bn suspicious payments, a deputy South African Reserve Bank governor and the registrar of banks, Kuben Naidoo said the case that would give banks the opportunity to explain how their behavior would be in the public’s interest.