Atul Gupta outside his home in Saxonwold, Johannesburg. Picture: Sunday Times
Atul Gupta outside his home in Saxonwold, Johannesburg. Picture: Sunday Times

The fact that Standard Bank has filed an affidavit seeking protection from political interference proves corruption and raises the question about to what extent the country’s institutions have been captured and abused‚ according to a legal expert.

David Loxton‚ partner at Dentons law firm in Johannesburg‚ specialising in corporate investigations and compliance‚ says all South Africans should be concerned by the whole saga.

On Friday it was revealed that Standard Bank had filed an explosive affidavit in the High Court in Pretoria appealing for protection against executive interference in the bank and detailing the extensive political pressure it came under from the ruling ANC party‚ Cabinet ministers and Oakbay after it closed the Gupta-owned company’s accounts.

It said the affidavit was in support of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s application for a declaratory order from the court‚ confirming that he does not have the authority to intervene in relationships between banks and their clients.

Standard Bank‚ which is also named as a respondent‚ has gone further than Gordhan’s application‚ requesting the court to confirm that no member of the executive‚ and not just the finance minister‚ may interfere in banking relationship.

The affidavit by group counsel Ian Sinton‚ filed on Wednesday‚ also reveals that Standard Bank was asked to meet both the African National Congress as well as the Cabinet inter-ministerial committee‚ in an attempt to place it under political pressure to reverse its decision‚ it added.

"Does the Standard Bank affidavit give the lie to accusations of collusive activity by the banks? Does it prove corruption? If officials were abusing their positions of authority to assist others to further their business interests by obtaining an unfair advantage‚ my answer would be ‘arguably‚ yes on both counts’‚" says Loxton.

The affidavit sets out information of extensive interference in a business by various senior government officials.

"Why would government do this? Is it politics? Is it the role of government to involve itself in what is essentially risk management by the bank? Viewed holistically in the context of the Public Protector report‚ and other public information‚ I would say not.

"The whole saga should concern all South Africans: to what extent has this country’s institutions been captured and abused?" Loxton says.

TMG Digital

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