RANJENI MUNSUSAMY: Major banks to testify as Zondo commission chases the Gupta money
'To track the flow of funds, the extensive Gupta ecosystem that spans SA, Dubai, India, the US, Hong Kong and Singapore needs to be mapped out'
This week, SA's four major banks will appear to explain for the first time the closure of Gupta accounts. Between December 2015 and April 2016, FirstRand, Nedbank, Barclays Africa and Standard Bank closed the accounts of Gupta companies. The brothers tried to apply political pressure on the banks which backfired and exposed their dodgy transactions.
Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan sought a declaratory court order stating that he could not get involved. Along with the Gupta companies, he cited the four banks as well as the director of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) as respondents.
In August 2016, former FIC director Murray Michell issued a certificate identifying 72 "suspicious" transactions worth R6.8bn. In December 2016, FirstRand said it had closed the Gupta accounts because of suspicion of money laundering.
There is a sweet spot where politics and the law entwine. Battles between the country's legal titans and wisdom from the bench that brings some level of rationality to the tangled mess of politics often prove to be uplifting for a scandal-fatigued nation. In its initial phase, the state capture inquiry composed a caricature of the Gupta brothers at the heart of the state capture machinery. Witnesses testified about their interactions with the shadowy figures who allegedly controlled the levers of power during the Zuma administration. The brothers have been mythical figures - their activities went from being exceptionally secretive to the stuff of super-villains. The audacity of what they allegedly pulled off is sometimes difficult to conceive. Testimony by Mcebisi Jonas, Vytjie Mentor and Themba Maseko took us into the Gupta bubble of power and privilege. Trying to entice people with money and positions, bragging about their control over the president and threatening to destroy peop...