Guptas dismiss criminal bank activity allegations

The Gupta family has described allegations that their bank transactions were flagged as being potentially linked to criminal activity as little more than political games.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan suggested at a provincial government meeting in KwaZulu-Natal that the political instability around his fraud charges would weaken South Africa’s ailing economy.

Gordhan lifted the lid on the Gupta family’s business transactions in a court application last week asking the High Court in Pretoria to rule that he did not have the legal power to intervene between several major banks and the Gupta family.

The finance minister has been charged with fraud by the National Prosecuting Authority for signing off SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay’s early retirement application.

His lawyers said the charge was unlikely to stick.

Detailed papers filed by Gordhan on Friday includes an affidavit by the director of the Financial Intelligence Centre that lists more than 72 suspicious transactions linked to the Guptas and three to President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane.

They are flagged under the Act that requires banks to report activities that could be linked to money laundering, sponsorship of terrorism or tax evasion.

Yesterday, the Guptas thanked Gordhan for the court action, saying that “at last, the Gupta family and Oakbay can begin to formally clear their names”.

They denied the truth of the court affidavit from the director of the FIC and said none of the transactions were flagged or suspicious.

They also said the banks had allowed all of them to go ahead.

But Intellidex analyst Stuart Theobald said: “The banks must flag suspicious transactions, but the fact that they were carried through doesn’t actually mean anything.

“Banks are not regulators – they merely have to report transactions to the regulators, in this case the FIC.

“But it does not mean that the bank must put a stop to the transaction.”

Gordhan, meanwhile, has informed national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams that he does not intend to make representations to him in connection with the fraud charge against him.

Abrahams had given Gordhan, national Hawks head Major-General Berning Ntlemeza and SARS commissioner Tom Moyane until 5pm yesterday to make representations to him following a request by former SARS official Oupa Magashula and Pillay to have the charges against them withdrawn.

Abrahams could not be reached for comment yesterday. Gordhan is due in court on November 2.