Standard Bank Group [JSE:SBK], Africa’s biggest lender by assets, and Barclays Africa Group [JSE:BGA] said they agreed with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan that he couldn’t interfere when the country’s banks closed accounts linked to the Gupta family.
“The government is not by law empowered or obliged to intervene in the relationship between a bank and its customers,” Johannesburg-based Standard Bank said in an e-mailed response to questions on Friday.
Gordhan last week asked the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to order that he has no authority to stop banks from closing accounts linked to the Guptas, following repeated requests to do so by the family, who are friends of President Jacob Zuma.
In his affidavit, Gordhan noted 72 transactions totaling R6.8bn ($484m) by the Guptas and companies they control that the anti-money laundering agency considered suspicious. Joining Gordhan’s application may enable the lenders to explain why they closed accounts.
“We are going to file an explanatory affidavit,” said Barclays Africa, the continent’s third-largest lender.
FirstRand [JSE:FSR], Africa’s largest bank by market value, said on Thursday it agrees with Gordhan’s stance, after he named all four of South Africa’s biggest lenders in his affidavit.
Nedbank Group [JSE:NED] wasn’t immediately able to comment when contacted on Friday.