SA prose­cu­tor drops fraud charges against Gord­han

The Star (Kenya) - - News World -

South Africa’s state prose­cu­tor dropped fraud charges against Fi­nance min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han yes­ter­day, the latest twist in a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion that has rat­tled fi­nan­cial mar­kets in the con­ti­nent’s most in­dus­tri­alised econ­omy.

Wor­ries that Gord­han could be pros­e­cuted or even re­moved from his job have also in­creased the risk that credit rat­ing agen­cies would down­grade South Africa to “junk” sta­tus, un­der­min­ing ef­forts to re­vive eco­nomic growth. The rand gained as much as 1.6 per cent against the dol­lar, while bonds firmed as the head of the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity, Shaun Abra­hams, read his de­ci­sion at a me­dia con­fer­ence in the cap­i­tal, Pre­to­ria.

“I am sat­is­fied that... Gord­han did not have the req­ui­site in­ten­tion to act un­law­fully,” Abra­hams said. He said he owes no­body an apol­ogy and would not re­sign af­ter the flip-flop on the de­ci­sion to pros­e­cute.

Gord­han was due to face charges in court on Wed­nes­day that he fraud­u­lently ap­proved early re­tire­ment for a deputy tax com­mis­sioner and re-hired him as a con­sul­tant, cost­ing the rev­enue ser­vice 1.1 mil­lion rand ($80,000).

Gord­han, who is widely re­spected in fi­nan­cial mar­kets, said the ac­cu­sa­tions were po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated. The charges trig­gered a back­lash from op­po­si­tion po­lit­i­cal par­ties, civil so­ci­ety and big busi­nesses.

/REUTERS

South African Fi­nance min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han dur­ing a me­dia brief­ing in Jo­han­nes­burg on March 14

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