The South African rand saw a brief spike following comments from head of the National Prosecuting Authority, Shaun Abrahams, that the decision to charge finance minister Pravin Gordhan for fraud can be reviewed.
Abrahams was addressing the Parliamentary Justice Committee, presenting the NPA’s annual report on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, NPA head Abrahams announced that Gordhan had been issued with a summons to appear before the court on charges of fraud. The charges relate to alleged fraudulent behaviour in Gordhan signing off on an early retirement process at SARS for former deputy commissioner, Ivan Pillay.
During the presentation, Abrahams was grilled by opposition MPs over the matter of Gordhan’s fraud charges, questioning the timing and content of the NPA’s case against the minister.
Abrahams stressed that it was not him, as an individual, that took the decision to charge Gordhan, but rather that it was the decision of a team of prosecutors who deal with priority crimes.
Further, the NPA head noted that Gordhan can make representations to him to review the decision to prosecute, and he would review the decision.
“I’m more than willing to review any matter if someone applies to me to review that matter. Now minister Gordhan can submit representations to me and ask me to review the matter and I would certainly look into the matter,” he said.
The news sparked a brief spike in the rand, which jumped from levels around R14.35 to R14.05, before climbing back to around R14.23 aginst the US currency.
When questioned on the timing of the charges – just two weeks ahead of the finance minister’s budget meeting on the 26th of October – MPs were told the questioning was out of line, and of a political nature.
However, Abrahams insisted that the minister’s charges were one of many contraventions of the Public Finance Management Act that were currently being investigated – and said that he would charge and prosecute even his own people if there was evidence of wrongdoing.