FNB refused to meet ANC to discuss Gupta bank closures

FNB refused to meet ANC to discuss Gupta bank closures.
FNB refused to meet ANC to discuss Gupta bank closures.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

The ANC’s Enoch Godongwana has again been named in the state capture inquiry for summoning banks to the party’s headquarters to discuss the closure of Gupta-linked bank accounts.

In his testimony at the inquiry on Tuesday‚ former FirstRand group chief executive Johan Burger alleged that Godongwana had called him to a meeting with party secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.

In a series of text messages between Burger and Godongwana‚ Burger told the party’s economic subcommittee chairman that he was out of town on the requested meeting date and asked for details on the agenda of the meeting. The meeting was subsequently called off.

“I wouldn’t expect to get a call from a political party to ask questions about a bank-client relationship. In my 32 years‚ it’s the first call I ever got from any political party asking questions about a bank-client relationship‚” Burger said.

TimesLIVE on Monday reported that Standard Bank was summoned to parliament’s inter-ministerial committee‚ chaired by former minister and state capture-implicated Mosebenzi Zwane‚ where the bank was “persuaded” to retract its decision to close bank accounts belonging to Gupta-linked businesses.

The meeting came after Standard Bank was invited to a meeting at Luthuli House to discuss the same matter. According to the bank’s head of compliance‚ Ian Sinton‚ the meeting at Luthuli House was attended by then ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe‚ deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte and Godongwana.

Burger told the commission that FNB chose to close Gupta-linked accounts in 2016 – among which were those belonging to Tegeta‚ The New Age Media and Sahara – because of “associated reputational and business risks”.

After the accounts were closed‚ Burger said he had received another meeting invitation from Zwane’s inter-ministerial committee. Burger declined the meeting after‚ according to him‚ the committee’s secretary would not clarify its scope and purpose.

Burger said he had received another meeting request‚ this time highlighting that the meeting with the committee would focus on the closure of Gupta-linked accounts.

“I responded back by saying while we are prepared to engage with the IMC‚ and while we can discuss the regulatory framework we use as banks‚ we will not debate any client-specific information. I also said we will only meet if all the IMC members are present‚ including the finance minister‚” Burger told the commission.

He said there was no response to his request and the meeting did not occur.

The inquiry continues.

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