Bank ordered to keep Gupta accounts open

The High Court ordered the Bank of Baroda on Monday to keep the accounts of Gupta-linked companies open pending a final application which must be launched in 15 days.

The matter pertains to an application the companies made against the Indian-based bank. Baroda wants to join four major banks in South Africa, ABSA, Standard Bank, Nedbank and FNB in closing Gupta-linked accounts. The Bank of China previously also closed Gupta-linked accounts.

Baroda had given the companies until the end of September to remove their money from the bank accounts.

Judge Hans-Joachim Fabricius on Monday granted an interdict against the bank from de-activating or closing the Gupta businesses banking accounts, or from terminating the banker-customer relationship.

The matter was first heard at the North Gauteng High Court in September, when the companies lodged an urgent application against the bank to keep the accounts open. Bank of Baroda notified the companies in March that their accounts would be closed from the end of August, and the deadline was extended to the end of September, Fin24 reported.

The companies who lodged the application include Annex Distribution, Confident Concepts, Sahara Computers, VR Laser Services, Islandsite Investments 188, Koornfontein Mines, Oakbay Investments, Optimum coal mine, Shiva Uranium, Tegeta Exploration, Westdawn Investments, Idwala Coal, and Mabengela Investments.

The bank reported to the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) 45 suspicious transactions amounting to R4.2bn between September 16 2016 and July 14 2017, the acting CEO in South Africa Manoj Kumar Jha revealed in an answering affidavit. His affidavit confirmed that the bank simply did not want to do business with the Guptas anymore.

Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments has also resorted to selling its businesses. This includes Tegeta Exploration and Resources which was sold to Swiss-based Charles King SA for R2.97 billion.

Oakbay had also sold its media assets, broadcaster ANN7 and The New Age newspaper, to a firm, Lodidox, owned by Mzwanele Manyi. Lodidox bought ANN7 (Infinity Media) for R300 million and The New Age (TNA Media) for R150 million.


Read: Bank cleared to close Gupta accounts at the end of the month

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Bank ordered to keep Gupta accounts open