‘GUPTA COM­PA­NIES TAR­GETED’

The Witness - - NEWS -

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.

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