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Reports: Reserve Bank digs deeper into Gupta money matters

It’s reported this is part of a probe into claims that the Guptas are illegally channelling money out of SA.

FILE: Atul Gupta. Picture: Atul Gupta Kumar/Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) has reportedly demanded that an Indian bank release documents related to the bank accounts owned by the Gupta family.

The Sunday Times is reporting this forms part of a wider investigation into allegations that the controversial family may be illegally channelling money out of the country.

The paper says Sarb and the Financial Intelligence Centre have requested the documents from the Bank of Baroda out of concern, as deposits do not move any further locally, suggesting they are being shifted offshore.

It's claimed teams from both departments have been meeting and collaborating on the investigation.

Barclays Africa's Absa, First National Bank (FNB), part of FirstRand, Standard Bank, Nedbank, investment bank Sasfin and the local unit of global auditors KPMG cut links with Oakbay Investments in April.

The companies, severed links with Oakbay Investments following allegations that its owners, the Gupta family, used their friendship with President Jacob Zuma to win political favours.

According to the newspaper, the Guptas' cash trail mystery deepened after the financial institutions withdrew their services, with suspicion rising that when the money is in the Baroda account it's easier to move it to Dubai.

The Indian bank has two branches in the country, one in Durban and the other Johannesburg.

GOVT INTERVENES

Earlier this month, Mining Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said government will continue its efforts to resolve a standoff between commercial banks and Oakbay Investments.

Later in April, the government set up a team of ministers to resolve the standoff between banks and Oakbay Investments.

"We are government, banks must actually realise that," Zwane told reporters.

"We engage until we find a solution. We will continue pursuing them. Everybody including Oakbay must enjoy their equal rights," he said.

Zwane said some banks had responded to calls for engagement and some had not, but gave no details.

"We will continue pursuing this matter, even if it means government coming up with a state bank, we will do so," Zwane said without elaborating.

The minister had acknowledged the Guptas are his friends, but denied anything improper. The Guptas, whose wide range of business interests include media and mining, also reject the allegations.

Additional reporting by Reuters.