Ajay and Atul Gupta. Picture: SUPPLIED.
Ajay and Atul Gupta. Picture: SUPPLIED.

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) is suing four companies linked to the politically connected Gupta family after they failed to repay a loan that the state-owned development financier had cancelled because it was suspecting illegal activity.

The Guptas’ Oakbay Resources and Energy, Oakbay Investments, Action Investments and Shiva Uranium owe the IDC R287.5m in principal debt and interest and are also liable for the institution’s legal costs, it said in court documents. The amount is made up of R37.5m of the outstanding loan and the rest is interest, according to the IDC.

The IDC cancelled its original R250m loan agreement, signed more than seven years ago, on November 10 after it said the Gupta companies breached the pact by possibly being involved in fraud. Ronica Ragavan, a director of Oakbay Resources, declined to comment on the IDC court case and referred queries to an Oakbay e-mail account.

The family’s firms have also been in court this year to try to stop India’s Bank of Baroda from closing their South African accounts. The facilities are all the Guptas have left after lenders operating in the country terminated relationships with the family in 2016, citing concerns about alleged money laundering. The Guptas, who are friends of President Jacob Zuma and in business with one of his sons, have denied wrongdoing.

"We have to take allegations of fraud very seriously and pursue the recovery of public monies vigorously and using all legally available means to do so," Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said about the IDC’s battle with Oakbay at the end of last month.

The IDC ended up owning shares in Oakbay Resources because the financier agreed to restructure the terms of its loan and take on equity as payment. Oakbay first started trading at R10.08 a share in November 2014, giving it a market value of more than R8bn. The stock delisted in July this year at R5.80 a share after its auditors and listing sponsors resigned.

The IDC was persuaded to invest in Oakbay off what appears to be false statements and manipulation of the company’s share price, it said. The IDC now wants to give back its
28.5-million Oakbay shares.

Bloomberg

Please sign in or register to comment.