Opposition party backlash as Pravin drops Gupta bomb



October 17, 2016
Opposition party backlash as Pravin drops Gupta bomb

'NUCLEAR BOMB' AFFIDAVIT: Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan

Minister reveals how R6.8b in suspect deals may have led to banks cutting ties.

The Economic Freedom Fighters have laid criminal charges against the Gupta family, and all directors of their companies, including President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma, “who is Jacob Zuma’s proxy in Gupta businesses”, the EFF said yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance has called on the Hawks to investigate 72 suspicious banking transactions by the politically connected Indian family.

This comes after Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan turned to the court on Friday to get the Guptas and some in government off his back as he is being pressured to intervene with four major banks who have dropped the Guptas following allegations of state capture.

“(Gordhan) has pushed the ‘red button’ and escalated the dirty war between himself and (Zuma’s) most important clients, the Guptas,” DA spokesman David Maynier said yesterday.

In his explosive affidavit, Gordhan revealed how R6.8 billion in “suspicious and unusual transactions” may have contributed to the decision by the banks to cut ties with the Guptas.

The payments – made over the past four years – are listed in a Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) report, attached to court papers filed in the Gauteng division of the High Court in Pretoria.

Included in the red-flagged transactions is a R1.3 billion transfer from the Optimum Mine Rehabilitation Trust, two R38 million transactions by Atul Gupta on consecutive days in February 2014, and a R10 million transaction by Mabengela Investments, which is jointly owned by Duduzane Zuma and the Guptas.

Gordhan is asking the court for an order declaring that he cannot interfere with the banks’ decision to cut ties with the Guptas.

This after Oakbay CEO Nazeem Howa had been lastig with letters begging Gordhan for a meeting, and cabinet included Gordhan in an inter-ministerial committee tasked to engage with the banks.

Gordhan is challenging the banks to produce – in open court – classified reports that they made to the FIC, which monitors suspicious transactions to combat money laundering.

To date, the banks – Absa, Standard Bank, FNB and Nedbank – have refused to state publicly why they terminated their relationship with the Guptas, citing client confidentiality.

The Guptas have claimed that they are the victims of an “anti-competitive and politically-motivated campaign”.

In an interview in June with Carte Blanche, Howa read from a letter received from Standard Bank, which cited laws, including the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the UK Bribery Act, that the bank said it risked contravening should it continue doing business with the Guptas.

EFF acting spokesman Fana Mokoena said Gordhan’s court application “reveals the information already hinted [at] by the banks that the Gupta family and their businesses are involved in money laundering, racketeering, and gross corruption that is robbing South Africa of billions of rands.”

He said the R6.8 billion “is just the tip of an iceberg”.

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