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Report: Hawks say Gordhan not a suspect in Sars probe

The rand hit a two-month low against the dollar after a report that the finance minister faced arrest.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Hawks have apparently assured Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan that he's not a suspect in their investigations into the controversial South African Revenue Service (Sars) unit and he's not facing an arrest.

The Sunday Independent says this was revealed in a conversation between the investigative unit and Gordhan's legal team.

It follows reports last week that a docket was handed to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to prosecute Gordhan and eight others for espionage, in relation to the unit's activities while he headed the revenue service.

Political Analyst Raymond Suttner says South Africans should not completely believe the Hawks or the NPA.

"So the report on the Sunday Independent statement by the Hawks are untrue in the sense that it seems they're retreating from friendly threatening mode in the light of the rand going down and the public outcry."

Last week, NPA head Shaun Abrahams said it was "mischievous" to suggest that Gordhan's arrest was imminent. However, he said investigations are ongoing.

The rand hit a two-month low against the dollar and government bonds weakened sharply on after a report, denied by the government, that Gordhan faced arrest.

The report raised concerns of a repeat of the run on the rand and bonds in December after President Jacob Zuma changed finance ministers twice in a week.

Gordhan said he is scheduled to hold meetings with rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor's in the next few weeks after Moody's left its rating of South Africa's debt at Baa2, two levels above sub-investment grade.

Fitch and S&P rate the country at one notch above sub investment grade and plan to release their reviews in June.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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