/ 25 November 2016

Oakbay asks court to compel FIC to provide details on 72 ‘suspicious’ transactions

Family and friends: Ajay and Atul Gupta
Family and friends: Ajay and Atul Gupta

Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments launched a court application on Friday to compel a banking regulator to provide them with details about 72 transactions worth R6.8-billion that were flagged as “suspicious”.

The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) in August listed 72 alleged suspicious transactions reports spanning about four years and totalling R6 839 974 102.

The FIC report contains a certificate listing the 72 suspicious transactions. The FIC certificate was attached to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s application last month in which Gordhan asked the court for a declaratory order on whether he has the power to intervene with the banks at the behest of the Guptas after the closure of their bank accounts. A certificate from the FIC does not contain the actual confidential suspicious and unusual transaction reports.

It detailed payments made by the Gupta family, including brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh, as well as payments made by Oakbay affiliates,including Tegeta Resources, Shiva Uranium and Sahara Computers.

The FIC’s list of 72 Gupta-related transactions, however, lacks details on, for example, who the beneficiaries of the payments were, by whom the transactions were reported to the banking regulator and which banks made the transactions.

Oakbay acting CEO Ronica Ragavan indicated in her affidavit thathe company and its affiliates will oppose Gordhan’s application.

In order to do so, Oakbay requested detailed information from the FIC, who refused to provide it.

In terms of the FIC Act, no person, not even the relevant “suspicious” person, is entitled to have information the centre holds, unless it is compelled by a court order to release such information.

Ragavan has now approached a court in order to get the information, lamenting that “lawful transactions are misrepresented (by whomever) as being dubious, underhanded or corrupt”.

She accuses Gordhan of creating the perception that the Gupta family and their business entities are “involved in dubious and inappropriate and corrupt affairs”.

She downplayed the serious allegations in Gordhan’s affidavit as “insinuations” and said the “misconception” created will be addressed.

She also took a swipe at the media, saying “relentless attack(s)” created the perception that the Gupta family is crooked and corrupt – something which has impacted on their day to day business.

“It is evident from these newspaper articles and media reports that the perception was created that the applicants are “guilty” of inappropriate conduct and in obvious breach of applicable law, legislation or acceptable practices”.

Oakbay’s application is expected to be heard in March 2017.