Oakbay, Guptas to Refute Gordhan Allegations in S. African Court

  • Company, family say they welcome chance to clear their names
  • Court documents flag 6.8 billion rand of suspect transactions

Oakbay Investments and its controlling shareholders, the Gupta family, said allegations made in court documents filed by South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan that they were party to suspicious transactions were groundless and they welcomed the opportunity to prove their innocence in court.

Gordhan asked the High Court to order that he couldn’t intervene in a decision by the country’s largest banks to shut Gupta-controlled company accounts, because he didn’t have the authority and the decision appeared warranted. An annex to an affidavit he filed on Oct. 14 from the Financial Intelligence Center, which investigates money laundering, implicated family members and their businesses in 72 suspect transactions totaling 6.8 billion rand ($487 million).

“The finance minister’s application is being considered by lawyers for the Gupta family and Oakbay and will be dealt with in full, each and every entry,“ their lawyers, Van Der Merwe Associates, said in an e-mailed statement issued on their behalf. “All of the 72 transactions were approved and cleared by the respective banks processing the transactions. We are delighted to have received this application. We look forward to clearing our name.”

South Africa’s graft ombudsman has been investigating whether the Guptas, who are friends with President Jacob Zuma and are in business with his son, Duduzane, have wielded undue influence over government appointments and contracts. The family and the president deny wrongdoing.

“Whilst we thoroughly welcome this application, it is undiluted nonsense and appears to be little more than the usual political games,” Oakbay and Guptas said.

Nazeem Howa, Oakbay Investments’s chief executive officer, resigned Monday, citing health reasons.

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