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Inquiry: Large sums of money were transferred from Gupta accounts - Absa

Absa's Yasmin Masithela says many issues were raised about the accounts of Gupta entities which increased the reputational risk for the bank.

Picture: Supplied by Absa Group.

JOHANNESBURG - An Absa official says the bank noticed large sums of money being transferred from Gupta-linked accounts which formed part of the reason for terminating the accounts.

Absa's Yasmin Masithela testified at the state capture inquiry in Parktown on Tuesday afternoon.

She says many issues were raised about the accounts of Gupta entities which increased the reputational risk for the bank.

Masithela says a review committee looked into the matter and found that the Oakbay portfolio had declined over the years.

“The Oakbay companies were not using Absa as it’s primary or dual bank and were apparently going to move their banking accounts elsewhere. Absa was limited in its ability to appropriately monitor and understand the transactional activity in those accounts and there was also evidence of large unexplained transfers of funds.”

Absa was the first bank to cut ties with the Guptas, it was also invited to meetings with the inter-ministerial committee but the bank declined to attend, saying it would not discuss client information.

The bank has told the state capture inquiry it declined an invitation to meet with the inter-ministerial committee over its decision to close the accounts of Gupta entities because it didn't view the committee as an appropriate authority to report to.

Masithela says the bank was invited to meet the inter-ministerial committee chaired by then minister Mosebenzi Zwane in April 2016, presumably over its decision to close the Guptas’ accounts.

She says they asked a number of questions about the agenda of the meeting and who would be attending but were not given adequate answers.

Absa was invited for the second time, but the bank again declined.

Masithela says that there are other authorities that they would be obliged to report to.

“I refer to the regulators, the South African Reserve Bank, the FCA and even the tax authority or the Financial Intelligence Centre but we did not deem the committee to be an appropriate authority.”

Absa's meeting with the ANC was very limited as the bank explained it couldn't discuss confidential client information.

A representative from FNB also testified earlier that they too were called to meet with the ANC and the committee but declined both invitations.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)

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