Oakbay badgered me, says Gordhan
THE GUPTA family’s Oakbay Investments hounded Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to use his political position to prevail on banks to reopen the company’s bank accounts, lawyers for the minister have contended in heads of argument in the case in which he is seeking a declaratory order that this was not allowed.
“Indeed, it both inopportuned and badgered him,” the 50-page document released by the Treasury stressed on Friday.
Gordhan’s lawyers dealt extensively with Oakbay’s reason for opposing such an order, namely that there was no factual dispute as it had accepted that he was neither obliged nor allowed to intervene in the relationships between banks and their clients.
They said this was patently untrue as evidenced by letters he had received from Oakbay between April and June last year. “There can be no serious suggestion that the minister was not subjected to pressure both unprecedented and outside of the law by the Gupta-controlled Oakbay companies to intervene.”
In its court papers, Oakbay had indicated that it did not oppose the declaratory order sought by Gordon on the basis of legal principle, but because he had been plotting politically against the company since last year.
Gordhan said the company’s correspondence made a mockery of its argument as it did in fact seek his political assistance regarding the banks’ decision and while doing so over several months, never levelled such an accusation of conspiracy, but in fact lauded his work in his current position and in the Struggle.
Oakbay, in their correspondence, had stressed that he was the political head of the economy, he noted.
“Politics were i ndeed already invoked in Oakbay’s first letter to the minister, dated April 8, 2016.”
Gordhan’s court application revealed that the Financial Intelligence Centre had flagged 72 transactions by the Guptas’ business interests as suspect, and has seen him argue that the banks acted as they did because of the family’s political exposure. – ANA