Two of the country’s big four banks — FNB and Absa — refused to meet with the interministerial committee set up by the cabinet to intervene on the Gupta family’s behalf when its bank accounts were closed in 2016. Questions were raised by both banks about the powers of the committee and whether the executive had the right to intervene in their client relationships, the Zondo inquiry into state capture was told on Tuesday. Former FirstRand group CEO Johan Burger, on behalf of FNB, and Yasmin Masithela, group executive of strategic services at Absa, testified about their interactions with the interministerial committee, headed by former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane. The committee was made up of Zwane, labour minister Mildred Oliphant and then finance minister Pravin Gordhan, and was tasked by the cabinet to engage the banks after the closure of the Gupta firm Oakbay’s accounts on the grounds that these may deter future potential investors in SA. Between February and Decem...

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