Hawks say Gordhan can't stymie probe

South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Kopano Tlape.

South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Kopano Tlape.

South African police indicated they will force Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to answer questions about an investigative unit that was created by the nation’s tax agency while he was in charge.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, known as the Hawks, said Gordhan missed two deadlines to respond to questions about the tax unit, called the National Research Group. Newspapers have said the unit investigated politicians, including President Jacob Zuma. On Monday, Gordhan said he hadn’t been notified of the second deadline and accused the Hawks of harassing him.

“This is neither a talk-show nor a soapie,” the Hawks said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday. “We are mandated to investigate without fear, favor or prejudice. Our legal team are forging a way forward, which will see the Hawks exercising our constitutional powers.”

The rand slumped as much as 2.6 percent to 15.9276 per dollar and was trading at 15.8423 as of 2:52 pm in Johannesburg.

Treasury spokesperson Phumza Macanda said she hadn’t seen the Hawks’ statement and couldn’t immediately comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.

“The Hawks can ask all the questions they want,” said Pierre De Vos, a law professor at the University of Cape Town. “There is no legal obligation to answer any of the questions. I’m not sure on what basis they will be able to force him [Gordhan] to answer.”

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