Standard Bank denies agreeing to re-open Gupta accounts

Standard Bank has denied that there is a ‘formal agreement’ in place to provide banking facilities to eight embattled Gupta-linked entities, which are now under the control of business rescue practitioners.

In a response issued on Tuesday, the bank said that it elected in April 2016 to terminate all dealings with the Gupta family and all entities controlled by it with effect from June 2016, and that this decision still stands and has not been reviewed.

“Standard Bank of South Africa Limited has not opened and will not open accounts with these companies. Any impression created to the contrary was created by an employee that was acting out of mandate,” it said.

“Communication between the employee and the Business Rescue Practitioner was not authorised and did not follow the internal processes of the bank. Disciplinary procedures are currently underway.”

The statement follows a City Press report indicating that Standard Bank had decided to open accounts for the Gupta family’s companies.

The report said that Standard Bank will immediately take over the companies’ deposits from the Bank of Baroda as well as business rescue proceedings. This was said to include the rehabilitation funds for the Optimum and Koornfontein coal mines, representing R1.5 billion in cash.

While a spokesperson could not confirm whether Standard Bank had taken over the accounts due to client confidentiality reasons, one of the business rescue practitioners had confirmed that Standard Bank held a board meeting where the issue was discussed on Friday.

The bank informed the business rescue practitioners on Sunday.

According to the practitioner, another local investment bank has also been willing to take on the business now that the Guptas were no longer in control of the businesses.

Read: Standard Bank agrees to re-open Gupta business accounts: report

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Standard Bank denies agreeing to re-open Gupta accounts