Pravin Gordhan will go ahead with court bid for declaratory order

Picture credit: Trevor Samson.
Picture credit: Trevor Samson.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will not withdraw his court application for a declaratory order confirming that he cannot intervene in a dispute between the Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments and four major banks.

Oakbay’s attorneys‚ Van der Merwe Associates (VDMA)‚ have notified Gordhan’s legal team that the company intended to oppose the application‚ unless the minister withdrew it and paid the costs by Wednesday afternoon.

Gordhan’s lawyers informed VDMA on Wednesday morning that the application would not be withdrawn.

In a letter to Gordhan‚ VDMA on behalf of Oakbay Investments‚ accused the minister of wasting taxpayers’ money on the application.

VDMA note that to spend taxpayers’ money in a “reckless and inappropriate manner” would constitute a contravention of the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act No 1 of 1999‚ which would warrant “further action against those officials responsible for same“‚ the company said.

It said the purpose of VDMA’s letter and offer to Gordhan was to offer him the “opportunity to save taxpayers’ money“.

Gordhan approached the court on Friday to ask for a declaratory order indicating that he could not interfere in the relationship between the Gupta family and the four major banks‚ which had closed its accounts earlier in 2016. The annexure to the application unveiled about R6.8bn in suspicious transactions from the family accounts.

In his application‚ Gordhan illustrated — by attaching letters former CEO Nazeem Howa‚ who resigned earlier this week — that Oakbay had repeatedly asked the minister to intervene or put pressure on the banks on the company’s behalf.

The Financial Intelligence Centre Act seeks to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. Banks have previously been served hefty fines for failing to uphold the act’s provisions.

VDMA have accused Gordhan of making “defamatory and untrue remarks towards members of the Gupta family by insinuating that they have been involved in inappropriate conduct“.

TMG Digital