Absa supports Gordhan over cutting ties with Gupta family

Pravin Gordhan applied for an order confirming he could not interfere in banks’ decisions to cut ties with the Gupta family.

FILE: Atul Gupta. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG – Absa has become the latest bank to file an answering affidavit in support of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s application for an order confirming he cannot interfere in banks’ decisions to cut ties with the Gupta family.

The bank filed the affidavit in the high court in Pretoria yesterday.

Gordhan’s application stems from what he calls the sustained pressure he has been under for the past year from Cabinet colleagues and the Gupta’s company Oakbay to intervene in the decision by the country’s four major banks to close the company’s accounts.

In its affidavit, by the head of compliance Yasmin Masithela, Absa says it supports Gordhan’s application.

The bank says it took the decision to close the Gupta-linked accounts in December last year after it decided that the costs of monitoring them to ensure compliance with money-laundering legislation outweighed the benefits and fees that could be derived from keeping them.

The affidavit further states the Oakbay companies were not using Absa as a primary or dual bank and were apparently moving their banking business to alternative financial institutions.

As a consequence, Absa says it was limited in its ability to appropriately monitor and understand the customer’s risk profiles.

It says there was also evidence of large unexplained transfers of funds.

Earlier this month Standard Bank submitted an affidavit to the High Court in Pretoria in support of the application by Gordhan.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)