DA lays charges of money laundering against Bank of Baroda
The DA has laid charges of money laundering and corruption against the Bank of Baroda, which has been providing banking services to the controversial Gupta family.
The bank is in a legal battle with a number of Gupta-owned entities after it announced its decision to close their bank accounts and then later on decided to close Baroda’s entire operation in SA.
The Gupta entities have approached the High Court in Pretoria in a bid to stop the closure of Baroda’s South African branch. Judgment in the matter is expected to be handed down on Monday.
DA MP Natasha Mazzone said on Thursday the party had laid the criminal charges against the bank in terms of sections 29 and 52 of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act.
She said this followed a report by the Crime and Corruption Project, which found that the bank’s South African branch knowingly laundered money on behalf of the Gupta family.
The project, founded in 2006, is a consortium of investigative centres, media and journalists operating in eastern Europe, the Caucasus, central Asia and central America
The project’s findings included that Baroda’s officials in its South African operation had deliberately suppressed employees’ reports of questionable Gupta-related transactions so that regulators would not be made aware of them.
Other findings were that some transactions and deposits lacked the required documentation; and where information was provided, it was either inconsistent or incorrect.
There were also a number of back-to-back intercompany loans with no legitimate business or legal purpose, in what seemed to have been an attempt to disguise the origins of the money; and some of the funds supposedly originated from Eskom and Transnet.
"It would seem, according to the report, that the Bank of Baroda purposefully enabled the illicit flow of money from state-owned entities to Gupta accounts," Mazzone said.
"If these allegations are true, it would be a violation of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, which means there are grounds for possible criminal charges and/or fines."
The Gupta family has been at the heart of state capture allegations. The net has been closing in on the family, with law enforcement agencies in SA and overseas starting to take action.