‘GUPTA COMPANIES TARGETED’
JOHANNESBURG — The Guptas’ companies have said the country’s banking regulator encouraged lenders to shut their accounts, broadening a battle to retain the last of their banking services.
The 20 businesses, which are suing Bank of Baroda’s local unit to keep their accounts open, have now included Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago and the registrar of banks Kuben Naidoo as respondents in the court case before the Pretoria high court, according to court papers.
All four of South Africa’s biggest banks cut ties with the Guptas in 2016, saying they were concerned their reputations might suffer harm and that they were bound by regulations prohibiting money laundering.
Other lenders including the State Bank of India, Bank of India and Bank of China followed suit, leaving Bank of Baroda as the last financial institution in South Africa to offer them banking services.
“There is a pattern of conduct amongst the banks which is aimed at shutting the applicants out of the South African financial system,” Ronica Ragavan, a director of nine Gupta-linked companies, said in court papers dated October 26.
“The banks, together with the regulators, have acted in concert to do so, and, where any bank, such as Baroda, has remained outside of the pattern, the regulator has stepped in to pressurise such bank.”
The Reserve Bank will respond in court, it said in an emailed response to questions yesterday.