Guptas' bank war: D-Day for responding court papers

Johannesburg - The Guptas are expected to file papers in Tshwane’s North Gauteng High Court on Friday in their response to a 2016 application by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The Guptas’ lawyer, Gert van der Merwe, has confirmed to Fin24 that he plans to file the family's affidavit on Friday. Fin24 understands that final responses were being added to the affidavit on Thursday afternoon.

Van der Merwe previously told television station eNCA that the Guptas plan to reveal “how they are victims of a planned, concerted and politically driven smear campaign”.

READ: Guptas to prove conspiracy claims on January 20 - report

The court application centres on the closure of Gupta-linked Oakbay Investments’ bank accounts by the big four banks: First National Bank, Nedbank, Standard Bank and Absa.

Gordhan’s affidavit, filed on October 14 last year, revealed that former Oakbay Investments CEO Nazeem Howa pressured the minister to negotiate with banks on the matter.

READ: Gordhan drops Gupta 'nuclear bomb'

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”.

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

Apart from Gupta-linked companies, Gordhan also included the banks as well as Governor of the Reserve Bank and the director of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) as respondents.

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 (PEPs).

READ: Bank bombshell: The Guptas won't run away - lawyers

Television news station eNCA reporter Karyn Maughan recently tweeted that "three judges” are expected to decide on the court battle from 28-30 March.

The saga around the banks’ closure of the Gupta-linked bank accounts have taken centre stage on the political front too amid a Public Protector report on so-called state capture last year.

The report cast a light on the Guptas’ close links to President Jacob Zuma and his son Duduzane, with allegations that the family even makes calls on who does and doesn’t become ministers.

Further fire was added to the political flames when Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane in September 2016 announced that the inter-ministerial committee set up by Cabinet to probe why South Africa’s banks blacklisted Gupta-owned businesses recommended that a judicial inquiry be established.

A day later, the Presidency issued a statement distancing itself and Cabinet from the call, but he then reopened the door to a possible inquiry in Parliament in November.

“We’ll certainly have to investigate what is this and we started very politely by sending a team to meet the banks to say what is happening,” said Zuma.

READ: Bank probe: Standard Bank worried over Zuma's comments

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