In The News South Africa

High Court dismisses Gordhan’s application for declaratory order in Gupta row

PRETORIA, August 18 – The North Gauteng High Court on Friday dismissed former finance minister Pravin Gordhan’s application for a declaratory order that he was not allowed to intervene on behalf of the Gupta business empire when commercial banks blacklisted it.

Judge Aubrey Ledwaba termed Gordhan’s application “clearly unnecessary” as there was no legal dispute on the point. It was therefore unfair to embroil the judiciary in the matter, he said.
Gordhan brought the application last year while he was still finance minister and facing pressure from the politically-connected Gupta family to intercede on their behalf when South Africa’s four biggest banks served notice that it was closing all accounts linked to them.
The court ordered the finance ministry to pay costs.
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba issued a brief statement on Friday saying he “accepts and respects” the court order and would not appeal it.
The court application had inflicted further damage on the image of the Guptas as Gordhan filed documents that disclosed that the Financial Intelligence Centre had red-flagged transactions linked to the family’s businesses worth R6.8 billion.
He submitted that he had been hounded by their company Oakbay Holdings to use his political influence to persuade banks not to shut its accounts.
In its arguments, Oakbay conceded the point that the minister could not or was not obliged to intervene in the matter, which left the Guptas’ business operations without local banking facilities.
Gordhan, as finance minister, blocked at least one venture between a state-owned entity and business associates of the Gupta family, and demanded the investigation of other contracts between the state and their companies.
He was fired by President Jacob Zuma in March.

The North Gauteng High Court on Friday dismissed former finance minister Pravin Gordhan’s application for a declaratory order that he was not allowed to intervene on behalf of the Gupta business empire when commercial banks blacklisted it.

Judge Aubrey Ledwaba termed Gordhan’s application “clearly unnecessary” as there was no legal dispute on the point. It was therefore unfair to embroil the judiciary in the matter, he said.

The court made a costs order against Gordhan.

Gordhan brought the application last year while he was still finance minister and facing pressure from the politically-connected Gupta family to intercede on their behalf when South Africa’s four biggest banks served notice that it was closing all accounts linked to them.

Gordhan filed court documents that disclosed that the Financial Intelligence Centre had red-flagged transactions linked to the family’s businesses worth R6.8 billion.

ANA

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