On Tuesday.The Guptas said Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s court application is fundamentally flawed and will assist them in clearing their name, their lawyer said in a statement.
“We are delighted to have received this application,” the Guptas’ lawyer Van Der Merwe Associates said on behalf of Ajay Gupta and Oakbay Investments, in response to the affidavit from Pravin Gordhan.
However, they said the application “is undiluted nonsense and appears to be little more than the usual political games”. They said the application’s detail is “fundamentally flawed as of the 72 transactions flagged”.
“The truth always comes out in the end and we look forward to clearing our name in court,” it said.
“At last, the Gupta Family and Oakbay can begin to formally clear their names. They thank him for this opportunity,” said Van Der Merwe Associates.
“None of the transactions related to Oakbay or the family, which are over a five-year period, were flagged to the FIC (Financial Intelligence Centre) as suspicious. To put this in context, the FIC’s own 2015-16 annual report showed that 98 054 transactions in that year alone were flagged as suspicious by the banks.”
Their initial analysis shows:
– “Six transactions (totalling R4.096bn) refer to the Optimum mine before it was under Oakbay’s control and so was not transacted by Oakbay or the family
– “24 transactions (totalling R325m) are perfectly legitimate, are in the normal course of business and are not suspicious in any way
– “Five transactions (totalling R1.698bn) relate to Oakbay Resources and Energy, the listed entity. These are perfectly legitimate and all information is being supplied to its auditor, SizweNtsalubaGobodo, for review
– “Another 20 vaguely refer to ‘multiple transactions’ that makes any further analysis impossible without further detail from the Finance Minister
– “The remaining 17 transactions (totalling R719m) were also all for legitimate purposes and are absolutely not suspicious.”
“We will disclose these transactions in full, once the full analysis has been completed,” the lawyers said.
“All of the 72 transactions were approved and cleared by the respective banks processing the transactions.
“The fact that all transactions were approved is acknowledged in the attachment to Minister Gordhan’s application, in the form of a signed letter from the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank.
“One of the largest transactions flagged in Minister Gordhan’s application was the transfer of the Optimum Rehabilitation Trust’s Account (over R1.3bn) from Standard Bank to the Bank of Baroda.
“Yesterday, we proved this was bona fide and approved by all relevant authorities. The transfer occurred because all of Oakbay’s accounts were being closed.”
Their response to Gordhan’s application comes a day after Oakbay Investments CEO Nazeem Howa announced his resignation due to health reasons.
The full list of 72 ‘dodgy’ Gupta transactions
Seventy-two transactions varying from R5 000 to R1.3bn involving the Gupta family have been identified as “suspicious” by the FIC.
The 72 transactions worth R6.8bn that feature in a dramatic court application filed by Gordhan was flagged by the FIC because there had been “no apparent business or lawful purpose” for the transfers.
A source with knowledge of the matter told News24 that the Gupta transactions were deemed “suspicious” by the FIC because they didn’t relate to any apparent legitimate business transactions involving the Guptas and their companies.
After being asked for information by Gordhan, FIC director Murray Michell decided to issue a certificate detailing suspicious transactions involving the Guptas and their businesses.
“I must emphasise that such a certificate is only to be used for the purpose of introducing evidence in legal proceedings and will only confirm or refute the receipt of reports pursuant to the FIC Act. Such a certificate will not disclose any information concerning the content of any particular report which the Centre has received,” Michell stated.
Gordhan wants the court to declare that, as finance minister, he is in no way obligated to help the Guptas in their battle with South Africa’s largest banks, all of which had terminated their banking relationships with the Guptas and their companies earlier this year.
In support of his argument that the banks may have had good reason to close the Gupta accounts, Gordhan attached in his application a document from the FIC detailing transactions made by Gupta-linked companies between 2012 and June 2016. The transactions are valued at R6.8bn and had been classified by the FIC as “suspicious”.
Oakbay Group attorney Gert van der Merwe, however, told The New Age in a phone interview on Monday that he and Oakbay are currently considering their position regarding further action and possibly opposing Gordhan’s application.
“The relief sought [by Gordhan] is not necessary to ask for in the first place. So, one can only deduct that the application has no merit and no actual relief [is] sought,” said Van der Merwe.
At the same time he is glad to now have what he sees as an opportunity to get the banks “to at last give me reasons for closing these accounts. They kept it secret despite us asking for it repeatedly”.