Hlongwane‚ who has kept a low profile over the years‚ has long courted controversy with his name featuring prominently in the arms deal investigation‚ the former public protector’s state capture report and a probe by anti-corruption agencies in the UK and the US.
Absa bank closed several bank accounts linked to his aerospace‚ consulting‚ defence‚ mining and property companies in December 2013.
The reasons were spelt out in a judgement delivered by the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday which found that Absa had ultimately acted in good faith.
Hlongwane took legal action to force the bank to hand over detailed records supporting its decision to close the accounts. He believed the bank had acted unfairly‚ had violated his constitutional rights and was considering legal action to force Absa to reverse its decision. But the bank argued that some of the information was confidential.
Among the reasons given by the bank for closing his accounts was that he had been identified as a “Politically Exposed Person”‚ that the Arms Procurement Commission had sought information about him or his companies in 2012 and that his involvement in arms procurement made him a high risk client.
Judge Nomonde Mngqibisa-Thusi said in her judgement on Thursday‚ “I am of the view that (Absa’s) bona fides in deciding to close (Hlongwane’s) accounts cannot be questioned.”
The National Treasury has approached the courts seeking a declaration that it may not intervene in the relationship between the big four banks and the Gupta family‚ after their bank accounts were closed.
The Gupta’s in turn have asked the Treasury and the banks for documents showing why the accounts were closed.
The state capture report revealed that Hlongwane had mentioned to advocate Thuli Madonsela during her investigation that he had known Duduzane Zuma‚ the son of President Jacob Zuma‚ for some time and was like an “uncle” to him. He was also an acquaintance of the Guptas.
Earlier this year the Sunday Times named Hlongwane as the “fixer” who took Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas to meet the Guptas in 2015 where he was allegedly offered the job of finance minister.
Hlongwane was a key figure in SA’s arms deal‚ whose companies were alleged to have channelled millions in payments from British Aerospace as alleged bribes for the ANC.
And more recently‚ he was named in a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Guardian expose‚ which linked him to an international network of agents who facilitated certain payments for British company Rolls Royce.
The network of agents is being probed by anticorruption agencies in the UK and the US.