State, banks to meet over Gup­tas

CityPress - - Business - JUSTIN BROWN and AVAN­TIKA SEETH busi­ness@city­

A meet­ing be­tween the four ma­jor banks and three gov­ern­ment min­is­ters re­gard­ing the ter­mi­na­tion of ties with busi­nesses re­lated to the Gupta fam­ily is set to hap­pen soon.

This comes as some of the banks re­ceived com­mu­ni­ca­tion this week from gov­ern­ment.

“Absa has re­ceived an in­vi­ta­tion to meet gov­ern­ment, but the meet­ing has yet to take place,” said an Absa spokesper­son.

Sam Moss, a spokesper­son for FirstRand, which owns FNB, said she could con­firm the bank had been in­formed about the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­ter­min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee to look at the Oak­bay is­sue.

“How­ever, no meet­ings have been sched­uled be­tween any of the group’s busi­nesses and the com­mit­tee,” Moss added.

Last month, Cab­i­net de­cided that the fi­nance, min­ing and labour min­is­ters would in­ter­vene on be­half of the Gupta busi­ness to en­gage with the big four banks – Absa, FNB, Stan­dard Bank and Ned­bank.

Depart­ment of min­eral re­sources spokesper­son Martin Mad­lala said that com­mu­ni­ca­tion about any such meet­ing would be made through Cab­i­net.

Mean­while, it was a des­per­ate week for Gupta busi­nesses as they went all out to try to get bank ac­counts opened with a ma­jor lo­cal bank or elicit help else­where, but to no avail.

First it emerged that Oak­bay In­vest­ments chief ex­ec­u­tive Nazeem Howa had ap­proached DA leader Mmusi Maimane to re­quest a meet­ing to brief Maimane about “the pos­si­ble sig­nif­i­cant job losses that may oc­cur within our group of com­pa­nies”.

“As the CEO, I hope to draw a line un­der the cor­po­rate bul­ly­ing and anti-com­pet­i­tive prac­tices we have faced from the banks,” Howa added in the let­ter to Maimane.

How­ever, the DA flatly turned down Howa’s re­quest, say­ing that it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate for them to in­ter­vene.

Later in the week, about 450 Oak­bay In­vest­ments em­ploy­ees marched to Absa, FNB and Stan­dard Bank, hand­ing over mem­o­ran­dums.

The march came af­ter a sep­a­rate plea, made ear­lier last month in an open let­ter penned by two Oak­bay em­ploy­ees, ask­ing the banks to re­con­sider their de­ci­sion to close the ac­counts of the Gupta busi­nesses.

Staff in at­ten­dance at the march in­cluded those from news chan­nel ANN7, The New Age news­pa­per, Sa­hara Com­put­ers and JIC Min­ing.

Sizwe Pamla, Cosatu spokesper­son, said that the union was fully be­hind the march by Oak­bay staff and their ef­forts to try to en­gage the coun­try’s ma­jor banks.

In another de­vel­op­ment, Howa wrote to the Na­tional Con­sumer Com­mis­sion’s com­mis­sioner, Ebrahim Mo­hamed, re­quest­ing a meet­ing to dis­cuss cer­tain al­le­ga­tions that Oak­bay had made about the four ma­jor banks and Sas­fin, said com­mis­sion spokesper­son Trevor Hat­tingh.

How­ever, Hat­tingh added that the com­mis­sion would be un­able to help Oak­bay in terms of the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act as Oak­bay was not a con­sumer, as de­fined by the act.

The SA Re­serve Bank has also said that the dis­pute be­tween Oak­bay, as well as other Gupta com­pa­nies, and the banks was not its do­main.


DIS­IL­LU­SIONED Em­ploy­ees marched in protest to ma­jor banks this week to de­mand that the com­pany’s ac­counts be re­opened

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