South African Prosecutors Deny Gordhan Charges to Be Droppedby
Prosecutions head Abrahams to hold briefing on Monday
Finance minister due to appear in court Nov. 2 on fraud charge
South African prosecutors said there are no plans to drop fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and two former deputies, rebuffing a City Press report.
The newspaper’s story is “without merit,” Luvuyo Mfaku, a spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority, said by phone on Sunday. “Investigations are yet to be finalized and the national director of public prosecutions is yet to make a decision on all three accused,” he said, referring to Shaun Abrahams. He will hold a media briefing at 10:30 a.m. in Pretoria, Monday, the NPA said in an e-mailed statement today.
Gordhan is due to appear in court on Nov. 2, with former deputies Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay, after being charged with fraud relating to the early retirement of a former colleague at the national tax agency that resulted in 1.1 million rand ($79,500) of alleged wasteful expenditure. The Oct. 11 announcement of the charge deepened a rift between the Treasury and the presidency, knocking the nation’s bonds and causing the rand to fall more than 4 percent against the dollar in a day.
City Press said informal talks were under way between prosecutors and Gordhan’s lawyers about dropping the charges before the upcoming court date. The Johannesburg-based newspaper cited a senior official close to the chief prosecutor, a source close to the finance minister and a letter drafted by prosecutors.
Gordhan, 67, has been a key driver of a campaign to maintain South Africa’s investment-grade credit rating, which is up for review over the next two months. He has said the charges against him are frivolous and politically motivated and he’ll only vacate his post if President Jacob Zuma fires him. He’s received the backing of senior officials, including Cyril Ramaphosa, a leading contender to succeed Zuma.
Calls to Yolisa Tyantsi, a spokeswoman for the Treasury, were unanswered. She didn’t reply to a text message.