SA bank seeks protection from political interference – report

Standard Bank is seeking protection against political interference amid continued pressure it has faced for closing the company accounts of Oakbay Investments, the company owned by the controversial Gupta family.

This is according to a report by Business Day, which stated that the bank, on Wednesday, filed an affidavit in the High Court in Pretoria.

Standard Bank said that no member of the executive should interfere in its relationship with clients. This is in line with the views of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, that he does not have the power to intervene in such matters.

“The affidavit by group counsel Ian Sinton also reveals that Standard Bank was asked to meet both with the ANC as well as the Cabinet inter-ministerial committee, in an attempt to place it under political pressure to reverse its decision,” Business Day said.

In April 2016, all major SA banks dropped the Gupta family’s business accounts, after accusation emerged that the family had been involved in high-level political manipulation, now known as state capture.

The banks followed the lead of auditing firm, KPMG and financial group Sasfin, who stepped away from the Guptas citing reputational concerns due to the allegations.

The Gupta family and its businesses have continuously cried foul over the matter, saying they were innocent victims in a political conspiracy, and have insisted that if there was any evidence against them in the matter, it should be presented and taken to court.

A ministerial committee was subsequently established to investigate the matter, headed up by Gordhan, Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, and Public Enterprises minister Lynne Brown. Gordhan, however, declined to get involved with the investigation.

Read: Zuma suggests SA banks may have colluded in closing Gupta accounts

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