18 August 2017

South Africa: Gordhan vs Guptas - Oakbay Gets a Back-Handed Victory

Photo: allafrica.com
Left: Atul Gupta. Right: Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
analysis

Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan's application for a declaratory court order that a Cabinet member cannot intervene in the relationship between banks and their clients was dismissed on Friday. Effectively, the ruling by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria says the court action was not necessary as ministerial involvement is already impermissible in law. How this may play out in the on-going political machinations amid #GuptaLeaks and state capture remains to be seen.

South Africa's four major commercial banks from early last year closed the accounts of Oakbay Investments, and various related companies, amid the political contestation around how the companies of the Gupta family were conducting their business in the country. No official reasons were given, beyond mitigating exposure, as the banks cited client confidentiality.

In a twist to the saga, highlighting the political environment against which it unfolded, Cabinet stepped in early 2016. Minister in the Presidency Jeff Rabebe in a media briefing on the meeting of 13 April that year said there would be a ministerial task team made up of Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, Gordhan and Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane to inquire into this move. "While Cabinet appreciates the terms and...

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