Mining minister wrote to Nedbank over closed Gupta accounts
MINERAL Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane urged the Nedbank Group to reconsider its decision to sever ties with companies tied to the Gupta family, who are friends of President Jacob Zuma and in business with his son, Duduzane.
In a letter to Oakbay Investments dated April 7 2016, Nedbank said a continued relationship with the Gupta-controlled Oakbay would “create material business risks that could pose significant reputational risks”, according to an affidavit filed in the Pretoria High Court by the bank’s chief executive, Mike Brown, on Monday.
The group gave Oakbay 30 days to find alternative bankers.
After the country’s four biggest banks closed the Oakbay accounts earlier this year, the Gupta family asked Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to intervene.
Gordhan asked the High Court in October for a declarative ruling to the effect that he could not prevent banks from closing clients’ accounts.
Nedbank, Brown said in the court papers, had to consider international banking rules intended to counter money-laundering, and bribery and corruption, when dealing with clients.
He agreed to meet Zwane in May because the minister had been appointed head of an inter-ministerial committee that included Gordhan and Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant to investigate why the major banks had stopped doing business with the Guptas.
Zwane told Brown at the time that the finance and labour ministers were aware of the meeting but were unable to attend and had mandated him to proceed in their absence.
Those at the meeting included Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and Mzwanele Manyi, an adviser to Muthambi and a former government spokesman, according to an e-mail from the committee secretary that was attached to the affidavit.
According to the e-mail, Oliphant attended the meeting. This was
denied by Brown.
“The overall impression I came away with was that the purpose of the meeting was to determine whether there was a co-ordinated decision among the major South African banks to terminate the accounts of persons affiliated with the Gupta family,” Brown said, “and whether Nedbank would consider engaging with the relevant entities as their primary banker.”
Zwane’s spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for his comments.
Zuma “reprimanded” Zwane after he issued a statement in September saying the cabinet had resolved to set up a judicial investigation into the country’s banking industry following the decision to close the Gupta accounts. The Presidency said on September2 that the statement was issued in Zwane’s personal capacity and did not reflect the views of the cabinet. — Bloomberg