Gupta lawyer slams Pravin

By Drum Digital
18 October 2016

The Gupta Family and Oakbay Investments claim that last week’s finance minister Pravin Gordhan’s court application details were fundamentally flawed and will give them an opportunity to clear their name

By Aphiwe Boyce

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In an affidavit submitted by Gordhan to the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Friday, the minister seeks relief from the court to intervene in the decision by several banks to close bank accounts belonging to the wealthy and politically-connected Gupta family.

Documents attached to the affidavit submitted to the court also reveal transactions by the Guptas, amounting to R6.8 billion, reported to the Financial Intelligence Centre.

In a statement released by Gupta Family lawyer, Gert Van Der Merwe in response to the Gorhan’s affidavit, Van Der Merwe said, “The Gupta family as majority shareholders and Oakbay Investments are delighted to have been cited as respondents to the application from the finance minister. At last, the Gupta Family and Oakbay can begin to formally clear their names. They thank him for this opportunity.”

He stated that the minster’s application was being considered by lawyers and will be dealt with in full and in each and every entry. “The application’s detail is fundamentally flawed as of the 72 transactions flagged, our initial analysis shows.  Six transactions totalling to R4.096 billion refer to the Optimum mine before it was under Oakbay’s control and so were not transacted by Oakbay or the family,”  Van Der Merwe stated.

He added that 24 transactions totalling to R325 million were perfectly legitimate and were in the normal course of business and not suspicious in any way. “Five transactions totalling to R1,698 billion relate to Oakbay Resources and Energy, the listed entity. These are perfectly legitimate and all information is being supplied to its auditor, Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo for review.

“Another 20 vaguely refer to ‘multiple transactions’ that makes any further analysis impossible without further detail from the finance minister,” his statement read.

The attorney said the remaining 17 transactions which totals to R719 million were also all for legitimate purposes and are absolutely not suspicious.

“We will disclose these transactions in full, once the full analysis has been completed. All of the 72 transactions were approved and cleared by the respective banks processing the transactions”

He stated that the fact that all transactions were approved was acknowledged in the attachment to Gordhan's application?, in the form of a signed letter from South African Reserve Bank deputy governor [Kuben Naidoo].

“None of the transactions related to Oakbay or the Family, which are over a five year period,  were flagged to the FIC as suspicious. To put this in context, the FIC’s own 2015/16 Annual Report showed that 98,054 transactions in that year alone were flagged as suspicious by the banks.”

“One of the largest transactions flagged in minister Gordhan’s application was the transfer of the Optimum Rehabilitation Trust’s Account (over R1.3 billion) from Standard Bank to the Bank of Baroda. Yesterday, we proved this was bona fide and approved by all relevant authorities. The transfer occurred because all of Oakbay’s accounts were being closed,” the statement read.

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

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