/ 28 March 2017

Advocate in Gordhan-Gupta proceedings: The Guptas are ‘like Alice in Wonderland’

Indian businessmen
Indian businessmen

The Guptas are ‘like Alice in Wonderland’, Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett SC told a full bench of three judges in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday afternoon.

Referring to the Guptas’ “contradictory” statements in the ongoing court procedures, Gauntlett said the family on the one hand denied any dispute with Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan, but on the other hand did not want the court to make a pronouncement on the matter.

READ MORE: Banks caught in political crossfire

Gauntlett, acting for Gordhan, said that “all parties here agree on the minister of finance’s powers. The [Guptas] say what is before court is not a contested issue. They say we are right, that is the answer, but don’t do it [don’t give judgement on the matter],” Gauntlett argued.

Gordhan asked the court to pronounce on his powers in law to intervene in a bank/client relationship. Standard Bank, a party to the proceedings, went a step further and asked the court for protection against any member of the executive as well as the President.

If such a judgement is delivered, any member of the executive, including the president, might be in breach of a court order if they intervene in a private person’s relationship with their bank.

The crisp legal issue was only argued deep into the afternoon.

The morning was spent arguing several applications brought by the Gupta family and Gordhan.

READ MORE: Guptas suggest Gordhan is making more than a simple legal point

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo gave a unanimous judgement just before lunch, saying that many of the issues brought before court had nothing to do with the actual legal question.

He struck out three sections from the court record:

1. Gordhan’s submission of the contentious certificate from the Financial Intelligence Centre. The certificate shows 72 reports of dodgy transactions by the Guptas and their businesses;

2. The affidavit by Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas, describing how Ajay Gupta allegedly tried to bribe him by offering him the job of former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene; and

3. The Guptas’ accusation that GOrdhan and the banks conspired and colluded against the family and their businesses.

Mlambo further said president Jacob Zuma did not follow proper procedure when he tried to impede Standard Banks’ relief sought and therefore he will not allow any submissions.

Advocate Vincent Maleka SC for Standard Bank will address the court tomorrow morning, arguing that there is a “material dispute” with Oakbay.

Just after 3.00pm, Gordhan walked the 100 metres across the street from Treasury’s office in Kerkplein to the High Court in Pretoria.

Along with his deputy Mcebisi Jonas, he took the lift to court room 8E to quietly slip into the back of a packed court room.

When asked if he was still finance minister, he nodded his head and simply said, “Yes”.