Ajay Gupta fires back at Gordhan: Zero chance payments were suspicious

2016-10-15 21:09
Ajay Gupta (File)

Ajay Gupta (File)

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Johannesburg - A confident Ajay Gupta - the man considered as the patriarch of the Gupta business family - has brushed off reports implicating his family and their companies in "suspicious" transactions totalling nearly R7bn.

Court papers filed by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Friday, in application of an order that would absolve him of any responsibility to help the Guptas in their battle with South Africa's major banks, include a report detailing transactions worth R6.8bn that were deemed to have been "suspicious" by South Africa's Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).

However, Gupta, speaking to News24 from abroad, denied that any member of the Gupta family or any of their businesses had been involved in any dubious transactions.

"I really don't know much about the papers (filed by Gordhan), but I can tell you that there is zero chance that any of those payments could have been suspicious in any way," said Gupta.

He added that he had not had time to study the court papers.

It was not clear where Gupta finds himself at present, but he vowed to discuss the issue on Sunday, when he would be back in the country.

Show us the banks' reports - Gordhan

In his affidavit, Gordhan maintains that it is in the "public interest" that the court grants an order to the effect that Gordhan is not obligated to help ensure the Guptas would again have access to the services of South African banks.

"Oakbay has proceeded to direct representations and demands to me as the Minister of Finance. In short, Oakbay demanded that on behalf of government I intervene with the banks to achieve a reversal of their decisions (to bar the Guptas from using their services)," reads Gordhan's affidavit.

His application includes letters he'd received from Nazeem Howa, CEO of Oakbay Investments, one of the Guptas' most prominent companies, and from Stephan Nel, CEO of the Guptas' Sahara Computers.

Gordhan has listed the so-called big four banks - namely Standard Bank, Nedbank, Absa and FNB, as respondents in his application. Gordhan would like to see the banks submitting to the court the reasons why they had terminated their relationships with the Guptas in order to determine if it had been done over concerns relating to possible contraventions of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (Fica).

What’s in the reports?

"Should Oakbay challenge the proposition that any or all of the banks was indeed bound by law to report under FICA in such terms, it is open to Oakbay in terms of . . . FICA to require the banks to disclose to this Court the full contents (of) each of the reports in question," reads the affidavit.

"If the banks have acted lawfully and within the parameters of their statutory duty these (the banks' reports) should evidence the bases on which each reporting bank has concluded that the dealings in question could directly or indirectly make that bank a party to or accessory to contraventions of the law," Gordhan says in his affidavit.

"Conversely, the full reports, if disclosed pursuant to FICA, would confirm whether there is any substance to the serious contentions advanced by Oakbay that the banks have acted improperly in closing the accounts," maintains Gordhan.

Read more on:    pravin gordhan  |  gupta family  |  state capture  |  economy  |  politics

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