State, banks to meet over Guptas
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