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Criminal case opened against Bank of Baroda

A man walks past the Bank of Baroda headquarters in Mumbai, India, May 3, 2016.
A man walks past the Bank of Baroda headquarters in Mumbai, India, May 3, 2016.
Image: REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A criminal complaint involving allegations of money laundering and corruption was opened against the Bank of Baroda on Thursday by the Democratic Alliance (DA).

The complaint was lodged in terms of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act.

“We now implore upon the South African Police Services (SAPS) to promptly and efficiently investigate and test these allegations and bring all those who had a hand in possibly laundering public monies to book‚” said DA MP Natasha Mazzone.

The complaint was lodged with police in reaction to a report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Project (OCCRP)‚ which found that the bank’s South African branch had allegedly knowingly laundered money on behalf of the Gupta family.

Findings made by the OCCRP against the bank included allegations that:

• Officials at the South African branch deliberately suppressed reports on questionable Gupta-related transactions‚ effectively leaving regulators unaware of them;

• Some transactions and deposits lacked required documentation;

• There were also millions of back-to-back intercompany loans with no legitimate business or legal purpose;

• Some of the funds supposedly originated from Eskom and Transnet;

• Cash flowing through Gupta family accounts was so voluminous that it dominated the transactions of the entire Bank of Baroda branch in Johannesburg.

“It would seem‚ according to the report‚ that the Bank of Baroda purposefully enabled the illicit flow of money from state-owned entities to Gupta accounts. If these allegations are true‚ it would be a violation of the FIC Act‚ which means there are grounds for possible criminal charges and/or fines‚” said Mazzone.

The publication reported earlier that the relationship between the Bank of Baroda and 13 Gupta-linked companies had reached the point of being an “unhappy marriage” with one of the parties holding out for a divorce. The description of the relationship was made by Judge Ntendeya Mavundla at the high court in Pretoria.

The Gupta-linked companies had brought an urgent application seeking to stop the Bank of Baroda from closing down its South African operations. Baroda informed the Gupta-linked companies on July 6 2017‚ that it was ending its relationship with them.

Judgement will be delivered on March 12.

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