Court freezes mine rehab billions from Gupta-owned mines

Ajay Gupta believes the idea of state capture is an imaginary concept created by the media.
Ajay Gupta believes the idea of state capture is an imaginary concept created by the media.

Cape Town - Anti-corruption advocacy group the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) on Tuesday won an urgent interim interdict to freeze some R1.75bn in mine rehabilitation funds from two Gupta-owned coal mines. 

The group’s urgent application was heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. In a media statement, OUTA said their action was not opposed.

The funds, meant to manage environmental damage caused by mining, were kept at the Bank of Baroda.

But last week the Guptas lost an urgent interdict to compel the bank to keep offering them banking services. The bank said it would shut the accounts of 20 Gupta-affiliated companies, including the two coal mines, by the end of September. 

As a result, it was unclear what would happen to the rehabilitation funds.  

“The interim order directs the Bank of Baroda to continue to hold the trust funds of the Optimum Mine Rehabilitation Trust and the Koornfontein Mine Rehabilitation Trust in interest-bearing accounts in the trusts' names,” said OUTA in a statement.

It added that trustees of the two mine rehabilitation trusts have been interdicted from “directly or indirectly dealing in any way” with the funds, a stipulation which includes removing them from South Africa. 

The matter of what will now happen to these funds, and to what extent a court has jurisdiction over where they can be kept or moved, will be heard on December 7. 

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