Gordhan responds: Guptas’ claims are politically-driven and sensational

Cape Town - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the Guptas had made politically-driven and sensational claims in its press statement that summarised its responding affidavit their company Oakbay filed in the North Gauteng High Court on Friday.

This followed Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments’ statement, in which it called on the High Court to dismiss Gordhan’s “bizarre” application.

The statement came a few hours before Oakbay submitted a lengthy legal response to Gordhan’s 2016 application, which sought a declaratory order as to whether Gordhan may, under the Constitution and otherwise by law, could interfere with a decision by the top four banks to terminate the accounts held with them by Oakbay.

Oakbay claimed in the statement on Friday that in a January 2016 meeting with 60 “captains of industry”, Gordhan said steps must be taken “to clip the wings of this (Gupta) family” as part of a coordinated campaign orchestrated by Gordhan.

Responding late on Friday evening, National Treasury – responding on behalf of Gordhan – said it noted the filing of Oakbay’s answering affidavit and that their legal team is studying it.

It said that in its statement, “Oakbay makes sensational and politically-driven claims and allegations, which are designed to deflect from the primary issues raised in the minister's declaratory order”.

“Strikingly, Oakbay’s answer in the media statement is that it does not contest the minister’s legal contentions: ‘[t]here is no contested legal issue here and there is never [sic] any reason for the minister to bring [sic] this application.’

“Yet Oakbay ‘calls on the court’ to refuse a declaratory order, based on legal contentions it concedes it is unable to contest.”

While there is much to answer in Oakbay’s affidavit, Treasury said Gordhan will respond via a replying affidavit on 27 January 2017.

“Various media houses have approached the minister to respond on media platforms this evening,” Treasury said.  “The minister believes that it is wrong to anticipate the determination of the issues by the court in the way the Gupta-controlled companies seek to do.  

“The court process is to be respected,” it said.  

“The minister will respond, inter alia to Oakbay’s concession that it does not now contest the minister’s legal contentions, and its attempt (inter alia via the ‘international investigative firm’, which it has now ‘engaged’ to 'review the 72 transactions') in the court process.  

“The minister will do so, in accordance with proper legal practice, in his replying affidavit, to be filed on 27 January 2017.”

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