Oakbay Urges Gordhan to Drop Application on South African Banks

  • Court application alleges “suspicious transactions”
  • South African banks shut Gupta-controlled company accounts

Oakbay Investments, which is controlled by President Jacob Zuma’s friends the Gupta family, demanded South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to withdraw a court application implicating the company in “suspicious transactions,” a day after welcoming the chance to prove its innocence.

Oakbay said Gordhan should withdraw the application for a court to rule that he has no obligation to intervene in a decision by the country’s largest banks to shut Gupta-controlled company accounts, as Oakbay has asked him to do. The legal process would mean spending “taxpayers’ money in a reckless and inappropriate manner,” Oakbay’s lawyers said Tuesday in a letter to Gordhan’s attorneys.

In his affidavit last week, Gordhan attached an annex from the Financial Intelligence Center, a corruption watchdog, that implicated family members and their businesses in 72 alleged suspect transactions totaling 6.8 billion rand ($489 million). Oakbay said Tuesday all the activities in question were approved by the banks that handled them.

The Guptas, who are in business with Zuma’s son, Duduzane, have been investigated the nation’s graft ombudsman over allegations that they have wielded undue influence over government appointments and contracts. The family and the president deny wrongdoing. Zuma has sought a court interdict to prevent the publication of the results of the probe.

Attorneys for the minister Wednesday morning had already declined the request to withdraw the application and tender costs, Oakbay said.

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