New Gord­han, Gup­tas war

He claims their an­swer­ing court pa­pers ‘scur­rilous’

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

THE bat­tle be­tween Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han and the Gupta fam­ily has in­ten­si­fied, with ac­cu­sa­tions of mud­sling­ing, vic­tim-play­ing and abuse of the court sys­tem.

Gord­han yes­ter­day ac­cused the fam­ily of wag­ing a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign against him and the Na­tional Trea­sury, and de­nied his ap­pli­ca­tion for a declara­tory or­der against the fam­ily was po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

But the Gup­tas, through their com­pany Oak­bay In­vest­ments, hit back and said Gord­han was play­ing vic­tim in the mat­ter.

The fam­ily said they never sug­gested Gord­han can in­ter­vene in the mat­ter of the banks with them, but he was us­ing the court to settle po­lit­i­cal scores.

In his an­swer­ing af­fi­davit yes­ter­day, Gord­han in­sisted he did not have the le­gal right to in­ter­vene in the mat­ter be­tween the banks and the Gup­tas.

He de­scribed the an­swer­ing pa­pers by the Gup­tas as “scur­rilous”.

“It is the duty of the min­is­ter of fi­nance to up­hold the in­tegrity of the fi­nan­cial sec­tor and to safe­guard the Trea­sury from in­ap­pro­pri­ate in­ter­fer­ence by in­flu­en­tial in­di­vid­u­als,” said Gord­han.

The Gup­tas said Gord­han was play­ing vic­tim and in­sisted he was abus­ing the court process.

“To­day’s af­fi­davit is a case of re­verse vic­tim syn­drome. The ap­pli­cant proac­tively came af­ter us and smeared our name with a flawed list of trans­ac­tions, that he used his unique ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers to ob­tain, and then ques­tions the man­ner of our re­sponse to him,” said a state­ment from Oak­bay In­vest­ments.

“All of this changes noth­ing. Our bank ac­counts re­main closed and no ev­i­dence ex­ists to prove why that is the case. We look for­ward to clear­ing our name in court,” said Oak­bay.

Gord­han said he was glad that the Gupta fam­ily, through Oak­bay, ac­knowl­edged in their op­pos­ing af­fi­davit two weeks ago that, as min­is­ter of fi­nance, he can­not in­ter­vene in the mat­ter of the banks.

He said he brought the ap­pli­ca­tion in Oc­to­ber in the na­tional

in­ter­est, to pro­tect the econ­omy and the fi­nan­cial and bank­ing sec­tors.

How­ever, the Gup­tas said in their af­fi­davit Gord­han’s ap­pli­ca­tion was po­lit­i­cally driven, and he had lodged it days be­fore he was ar­rested by the Hawks last year, and be­fore the re­lease of the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s State of Cap­ture re­port.

The min­is­ter said there was no ba­sis for the Gup­tas to op­pose his ap­pli­ca­tion in the high court in Pre­to­ria.

“There is noth­ing ‘im­proper’ or ‘po­lit­i­cal’ by an in­com­ing min­is­ter of fi­nance dis­tanc­ing him­self from an in­flu­en­tial fam­ily al­leged to have been in­volved in the ap­point­ment of his im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sor,” he said.

“There has been no im­proper con­duct or ‘po­lit­i­cal’ re­tal­i­a­tion on my part,” Gord­han said, adding that he had no vendetta against the Gupta fam­ily as they have claimed.

“I deny in par­tic­u­lar any sug­ges­tion of a vendetta against the Gup­tas. No ad­mis­si­ble fac­tual ba­sis ex­ists for this extraordinary claim,” he said.

Gord­han added that the fam­ily had made sim­i­lar claims against oth­ers, yet the pub­lic pro­tec­tor had found in her re­port that they had tried to bribe Deputy Fi­nance Min­is­ter Mce­bisi Jonas.

Gord­han said Oak­bay in its own ap­pli­ca­tion con­firmed that he has no le­gal ba­sis to in­ter­vene in the mat­ter of the banks.

He said this be­lated con­ces­sion by Oak­bay flew in the face of its own an­swer­ing pa­pers that de­ci­sive ac­tion was needed against the banks.

Gord­han said the Gup­tas do not have sub­stan­tive grounds to op­pose his ap­pli­ca­tion, and he wants the court to grant him an or­der.

He de­nied that he was re­spon­si­ble for the clo­sure of the ac­counts of the Gup­tas. If that was the case, the fam­ily would not have ap­proached him for as­sis­tance.

The Gup­tas said they had pointed out in their pa­pers that Gord­han’s ap­pli­ca­tion was rid­den with fac­tual and le­gal er­rors.

In ad­di­tion, his re­liance on the list of 72 pur­ported “sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tions re­ports” was mis­placed, the fam­ily said.

‘NO VENDETTA’: Pravin Gord­han re­sponded to Gup­tas in court pa­pers.

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