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Guptas respect Absa decision on account closure - lawyer

Absa revealed in court papers that it cut ties with the Gupta family because there was evidence of large unexplained transfers of funds from Oakbay companies.

FILE: Atul Gupta. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The lawyer representing the Gupta family says that while they are disappointed by an affidavit filed by Absa this week explaining the reasons why the bank cut ties with the family, they respect the bank’s decision.

Absa became the latest bank to file an answering affidavit to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s application for a declaratory order confirming that he is not permitted to interfere in the decisions of banks concerning their clients' relationships.

This was after some Cabinet colleagues and the Gupta family asked him to intervene after four major banks closed the accounts of the family’s Oakbay company.

The bank revealed in court papers that it cut ties with the Gupta family because there was evidence of large unexplained transfers of funds from Oakbay companies and that the Gupta company was not using Absa as a primary bank and was moving their banking business to alternative financial institutions.

Attorney Gert van der Merwe said: "Despite the fact that we are still disappointed in the decision, we respect that decision and we can't take that further. The point I'm trying to make is that this is not a fight between the banks and Oakbay."

Van der Merwe added that it was unnecessary for Minister Gordhan to file papers in the high court, saying that the application has cast doubt over transactions conducted by the Gupta family.

In his application, Gordhan attached a document from the Financial Intelligence Centre detailing what he described as suspicious transactions made by Gupta linked companies between 2012 and June this year valued at almost R7 billion.

"It was unnecessary for the minister to launch this application. By doing so he has cast doubt over the propriety of the actions conducted by my client," Van der Merwe said.

(Edited by Zunaid Ismael)