STATE CAPTURE INQUIRY: Mosebenzi Zwane appealed to Nedbank to save Gupta jobs
Former Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane directly appealed to Nedbank’s CEO Michael Brown to “step in and save jobs” by reopening closed Gupta company accounts - stressing that Gupta family members had stepped down from these companies.
Brown said Zwane appeared to know that Nedbank was not the Gupta family’s “main transactional banker” and went to on to “suggest that would Nedbank consider stepping in to save jobs and provide an amicable solution, given that the relevant family…had resigned from those companies”.
“I found it (the request) particularly strange…I reminded Mr Zwane that we were not here to discuss particular client matters. Our decision for closing the accounts was based on the reputational and business risk associated with those accounts and that reputational and business risk would not have materially changed at all as a consequence of resignation of directors,” Brown told the Zondo Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday morning.
He said Zwane later concluded the meeting by commenting that “he found it surprising that other banks had refused to attend the IMC meeting of government considering that banks received their licenses from government”
“I also found it to be a very strange statement. I think it felt like a form of a threat.
“It was also a technically inaccurate statement, because banks do not receive their licenses from government. They receive their licenses from the Reserve Bank, which is Constitutionally an independent body. “I left the meeting with the impression that the IMC was focused on two key issues: to try and determine If there was collusion among the banks in the closure of bank accounts and secondly to determine whether Nedbank would have appetite to step in and become the primary transactional banker for the Gupta group of companies.”
Brown said Zwane — a known Gupta stooge who travelled to Zurich around time the Gupta’s did to negotiate a deal to buy Optimum Coal — slammed banks who refused to attend a meeting with his Inter-Ministerial Committee, which included Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, on the closure of Gupta bank accounts.
Despite assuring Brown that the meeting was not focused on any specific client, Zwane and his panel went on to ask him questions about allegations that Nedbank had discussed the closure of the Gupta accounts with another financial institution.
“That clearly wasn’t in the spirit or the framing of how this was constituted. I subsequently addressed a letter to the IMC that confirmed that the IMC’s allegations to us…were in fact not true,” Brown said.
No other accounts, bedsides the Gupta family’s, were discussed at the meeting, he said.
Zwane has been served with notices that he is implicated by the evidence given by Brown and other bank officials. He has not yet applied to cross examine any of them.