Minister in court on Gupta bank bid

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan Picture: Ruvan Boshoff
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan
Picture: Ruvan Boshoff

The Pretoria High Court moved quickly to deal with political arguments yesterday so it could focus on the narrow legal argument of why Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan could not intervene in the matter between the banks and Gupta-linked companies.

Parties in the matter were encouraged to reach a settlement – but this was unsuccessful.

Jeremy Gauntlett SC, for Gordhan, told the court that although parties had agreed the minister could not intervene, there was no agreement on a declarator.

The case comes after President Jacob Zuma tasked a ministerial committee comprising Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant and Gordhan to investigate why the country’s four banks had blacklisted the Gupta family and their companies.

Gordhan argued it would be wrong for him or any other cabinet member to get involved in a matter between a private bank and its customers.

The first order of business for the court was dealing with Zuma’s bid to be added as an “interested party”, which was unsuccessful. A full bench of the court dismissed Zuma’s application, saying he had not followed proper procedure.

It also dealt with applications brought by Oakbay Investments and Gordhan to have certain documents struck from the case.

The court agreed to the removal of a Financial Intelligence Centre certificate detailing 72 “suspicious” transactions on Gupta-linked accounts from the court record, as requested by Oakbay.

The certificate had formed part of Gordhan’s founding affidavit.

Cedric Puckrin SC, for the company, argued that the certificate was not relevant to the case, while Gauntlett argued that it showed the dimensions of the seriousness of the matter.

Yesterday’s ruling now means that details of the transactions, totalling about R6.4-billion, would not be made public.

An affidavit submitted by Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas would not form part of the matter. This was in relation to his alleged meeting with the Guptas on a R600-million job offer.

The court found in favour of Gordhan’s strike-out application against allegations that there was political motive for bringing the court application.

He scored another victory when Oakbay agreed to withdraw its allegation that he had colluded with the banks against the Guptas.

The court still needs to make a cost order. Arguments regarding Gordhan’s declaratory order will continue today.

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