Guptas’ Bank of Baroda case dismissed with costs

NEW DELHI, INDIA - AUGUST 8: Bank of Baroda PHOTO: Pradeep Gaur/Mint via Getty Images
NEW DELHI, INDIA - AUGUST 8: Bank of Baroda PHOTO: Pradeep Gaur/Mint via Getty Images

The application brought against India state-owned Bank of Baroda by 19 Gupta linked companies to prevent the bank from leaving the country has been dismissed with costs.

The bank announced in February that it would be shutting its doors and exiting the country by the end of March, but the Gupta-owned companies, which include Oakbay Investments‚ Oakbay Resources & Energy and Optimum Coal Mines, challenged this, saying that an interdict ruled in December prevented the bank from leaving the country.

The bank, which is alleged to have assisted the Gupta companies launder money, saw the Democratic Alliance lay charges against the bank last week.

A report compiled by the Organised Crime and Corruption Project found “there were also millions of back-to-back intercompany loans with no legitimate business or legal purpose, in what seems to have been an attempt to disguise the origins of the money”.

The DA laid charges against the bank based on the outcome of the report.

The Bank of Baroda bonded several properties at higher rates, the #GuptaLeaks revealed. It was discovered that a property purchased by the Guptas in La Lucia for R5.3m was bonded by the Bank of Baroda for R16m. This was 301% the value of the property.

Representing the bank, Advocate Azhar Bham said that the majority shareholder of the bank, the Bank of India, had decided to withdraw from South Africa as it was “no longer economically worthwhile”.

In his ruling at the North Gauteng Court in Pretoria today, Judge Ntendeya Mavundla said that “the bank’s right to trade or not to trade supersedes whatever right, if any, the applicants might have”.

“In view of the bank’s strategic plan for rationalisation of the branches in international markets, the management of the bank has decided to cease the banking operations in South Africa territory,” the bank said last month in a statement.

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