/ 11 October 2016

Finance ministry questions timing of fraud charges against Gordhan

Finance minister Pravin Gordhan operates on a two week cycle as he prepares to be ousted at any stage.
Finance minister Pravin Gordhan operates on a two week cycle as he prepares to be ousted at any stage.

The finance ministry said on Tuesday it was ”most unfortunate that the Hawks have, once again, chosen to initiate legal proceedings at a moment that appears calculated to maximise the damage inflicted on the economic well-being of South Africans and essential processes of government”.

This was after the shock announcement by the head of the NPA, Shaun Abrahams, that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, the former deputy commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (Sars) Ivan Pillay, and the former commissioner Oupa Magashula will all have to face fraud charges in court on November 2.

The statement said Gordhan’s legal team had interacted extensively with the Hawks over the last six months, and clear lines of communication were provided.

”Despite this, the Hawks chose to arrive unannounced at the minister’s private residence this morning.

”On being told that the minister has left for another engagement they proceeded to treasury offices and served the summons. 

”Shortly thereafter, and again without the courtesy of a prior indication, the national director of public prosecutions convened a press conference to unveil a set of charges that are patently without merit. 

”Gordhan’s team said that at the press conference Abrahams focused extensively on the allegations concerning the Sars investigative unit, saying he is not yet able to prosecute. 

”He then turned to the content of the summons, which is concerned with the matters of an administrative – not criminal – nature. It is quite clear that these legal proceedings are contaminated by abuse for political ends. 

”In spite of this, Gordhan will co-operate fully and under his guidance treasury will continue finalising the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement due to be tabled in Parliament on October 26.” 

In a separate statement, Gordhan’s lawyers, Gildehuys Malatji, said a letter was delivered to Gordhan on Tuesday saying he was an ”accused person”, but it was dated October 4. 

Lawyer Tebogo Malatji said Gordhan was considering all his options. 

Gordhan will not resign and will continue serving the country after receiving a ”contaminated” summons for alleged fraud on Tuesday, the ministry said.

”The minister wishes to assure the South African citizens that he will continue to serve the country and advance these objectives as long as called to do so by the president,” a statement from his office said. – News24