/ 18 October 2016

Guptas claim to be ‘delighted’ at Gordhan court application

Indian businessmen
Indian businessmen

The Gupta family has responded to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s revealing court affidavit, saying that there was nothing untoward in the R6.8-billion transaction that the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) described as “suspicious and unusual”.

The Gupta family lawyers released a statement on behalf of Ajay Gupta and Oakbay Investments, saying that lawyers for the Guptas and Oakbay are considering Gordhan’s application and it will be “dealt with in full”. The family also thanked Gordhan, saying that they would use it as an opportunity to address allegations against them.

“The Gupta family (as majority shareholders) and Oakbay Investments are delighted to have been cited as respondents to the application from the finance minister. At last, the Gupta family and Oakbay can begin to formally clear their names. They thank him for this opportunity,” said the family in a statement released by their lawyers, Van Der Merwe Associates.

The family has been in hot water and allegations of state capture have mounted against them. Earlier this year, former ANC caucus leader in Parliament, Vytjie Mentor, said that the Guptas had offered her a ministerial job at their Saxonwold home and deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas later said that the family had offered him the position of finance minister.

In an affidavit filed on Friday, Gordhan released information from the FIC which detailed the R6.8-billion in transactions made over four years by Gupta family members and Gupta-owned companies. The Guptas and Oakbay have denied that the transactions are suspicious.

In the statement, the family states that most of the transactions were legal and approved by the South African Reserve Bank. The family said, in certain cases, transactions were made before the Guptas took control of the companies in question – such as transactions totalling R4.96-billion from Optimum mine – and that the reference to “multiple transactions” in the court papers needed further detail before the family could respond.

“Whilst we thoroughly welcome this application, it is undiluted nonsense and appears to be little more than the usual political games,” the family and Oakbay said in the statement.

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has investigated the allegations of state capture in a report which the presidency and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen are planning to interdict. Their interdict applications will be heard on November 1, but in the meantime the public protector’s office has agreed that the report will not be released, and it will be preserved in its original condition with no editing.

The statement released by the Gupta lawyers today follows Oakbay Investments CEO Nazeem Howa’s resignation from the company. Oakbay said that Howa had resigned for health reasons. 

The announcement came after the Economic Freedom Fighters named Howa as a respondent in a case where criminal charges of corruption and money laundering were laid against the Guptas, their associates and their companies.