Banks rebuff cabinet bid to reopen frozen Gupta accounts
The outcome of the report would be communicated “in due course”, the cabinet said.
The three ministers were given the task in April of speaking to the banks after they decided to close the accounts of Gupta firm Oakbay Investments, citing risks to their reputations after allegations of interference by the Guptas in cabinet appointments – an exclusive prerogative of the president.
But initial attempts by Zwane to meet Absa were rebuffed, and a meeting between he and Oliphant and Standard Bank was inconclusive.
Gordhan, who was out of the country when the cabinet made the decision to approach the banks, did not attend these meetings.
The Banking Association of SA supported the decision of its members, saying they had to comply with regulations relating to the Financial Intelligence Centre Act and money laundering.
The cabinet said in April it was concerned about potential job losses and the impact on would-be investors of the decision by the banks.
Oakbay’s auditing firm KPMG and sponsor Sasfin Capital have also severed ties, though it has since appointed SizweNtsalubaGobodo Inc in place of KPMG.
Gordhan was caught by surprise on talk radio station PowerFM last month when three Oakbay executives called in to quiz him about progress in talks with the banks.
Oakbay has said though it has acquired the services of a foreign bank with operations in South Africa, it may have to retrench workers if its accounts are closed.
Its claim that 7 500 jobs are at risk has been disputed by Africa Check, which put the figure at closer to 4 900, excluding the New Age newspaper staff.
Atul and Varun Gupta and President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane resigned as direc- tors of the firm in a bid to rescue its operations but the move had little impact..
Yesterday, Absa said it had not discussed its clients’ accounts with anyone, including representatives of the government and would not do so in future..
“Our relationships with clients are confidential,” an Absa spokesperson said.
Nedbank said its position on the matter was “unchanged”.
“Nedbank has always enjoyed a very positive relationship with government,” said spokeswoman Esme Arendse.
“We would have approached any meeting in a spirit of constructive engagement but would not discuss the banking relationships of any of our clients, due to banker-client confidentiality, unless we receive client consent,” she said.
Oakbay had not responded to requests for comment by the time of going to print.