Months after being forced to keep open the accounts of businesses owned by the controversial Gupta family, India-based money lender, The Bank of Baroda, has given notification to the South African Reserve Bank that it will be exiting the country.
“The Bank of Baroda has notified the Office of the Registrar of Banks of its exit from South Africa. The Registrar, which is part of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), is in discussions with the Bank of Baroda to ensure its orderly withdrawal from South Africa so that no depositor is disadvantaged.
“At this stage, the SARB has no further comments on the matter,” the SARB said in a short statement.
The Bank of Baroda is heavily linked to the Gupta family in South Africa, and is the last bank to have open accounts linked to the family’s business operations in South Africa. It is reported to be hosting as many as 35 Gupta-linked accounts.
It tried to shut the accounts in 2016, but was ordered by the courts to keep the accounts open after Gupta-owned or linked companies successfully argued that the closure would unfairly impact its businesses, as all other South African banks had already blacklisted accounts associated with the family.
In the court proceedings, the bank made it clear that that no longer wanted to do business with the Guptas anymore, citing reputational damage.
The Guptas’ business operations in South Africa have suffered following the blowout reports on state capture, which include several investigations implicating the family in dodgy business dealings particularly in state owned enterprises, with thousands of leaked emails further proving their involvement, and more recently, inquiries gauging the extent of their network.
In 2017, Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments resorted to selling its businesses, including Tegeta Exploration and Resources which was sold to Swiss-based Charles King SA for R2.97 billion.
Oakbay has 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.