Gordhan told big business to ‘clip the Guptas’ wings’ – affidavit

UPDATE: Oakbay Investments' lawyers have distributed copies of their affidavit to the media. See further below in the story for the copies of the affidavit.


Johannesburg - Gupta-linked Oakbay Investments has slammed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's court application regarding the company as "superflous" and "riddled with factual and legal errors".

Oakbay Investments' lawyer, Gert van der Merwe, was set to file papers in the North Gauteng High Court on Friday in response to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s bid to obtain a court order regarding the closure of Oakbay Investments' bank accounts.

Oakbay Investments, in a statement issued Friday, said its court papers would say that Gordhan’s bid is unnecessary because there is no dispute about the matter. The Guptas also asked the court on Friday to "decline to grant the relief" sought by Gordhan and to dismiss the minister's application with costs.

READ: FULL STATEMENT - Oakbay's full statement on Gordhan's application

"Furthermore, the timing of the minister’s application supports the Oakbay Group’s suspicions that the application is politically motivated and is part of the minister’s ongoing plan to diminish the Oakbay Group and the Gupta family and to damage their hard-earned South African business," Oakbay Investments said in a statement released on Friday afternoon.

Gordhan's court application, which was filed on October 14 last year, centred on the closure of Gupta-linked Oakbay Investments’ bank accounts by South Africa's big four banks: First National Bank, Nedbank, Standard Bank and Absa.

Gordhan is seeking court protection against being forced by the Guptas to intervene in the matter of the bank account closures.

READ: Gordhan drops Gupta nuclear bomb

Gordhan’s affidavit revealed that former Oakbay Investments CEO Nazeem Howa pressured the minister to negotiate with banks on the matter.

As part of the application, Gordhan listed a Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) report detailing how the Guptas’ businesses made R6.8bn in “suspicious and unusual transactions”.

Late last year, the banks filed affidavits supporting Gordhan’s court bid as they listed concerns about the Guptas, ranging from risks of money-laundering and concerns over suspicious transactions to the family being politically exposed persons.

Guptas: Gordhan's application 'bizzarre'

Oakbay Investments in its statement slammed Gordhan's court bid, saying the minister's reliance on the list of 72 "suspicious transaction reports" is "misplaced and the minister's application is supported by a flawed analysis and a faulty factual record".

Oakbay Investments further said in court papers on Friday that it "never suggested that the minister is required to intervene in the bank-customer relationship" and that Gordhan could "simply have declined to do anything in the exercise of his legal discretion".

The Gupta-linked company's lawyers further said the application is an "abuse of court and an effort to involve the independent judiciary to settle political scores".

In its statement, Oakbay Investments further added that it had made "every attempt" to gain information from the FIC regarding the transactions, and that international investigative firm Nardello & Co reviewed the 72 transactions and didn't find any damning evidence.

Oakbay Investments also alleged that in January 2016 Gordhan met with 60 "captains of industry" where the minister, according to its "sources", said that "steps must be taken to 'clip the wings of this family [the Guptas]'."

A court hearing on the matter is expected in March.

 



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