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Standard Bank details suspicious Gupta transactions

Ian Sinton took the stand at the state capture commission of inquiry on Tuesday and explained taht Standard Bank’s decision to cut ties and the risks it identified.

FILE: A screengrab shows Standard Bank's Ian Sinton giving evidence at the Zondo Commission of inquiry on 17 September 2018.

JOHANNESBURG - Standard Bank’s head of compliance Ian Sinton has given insight into the bank’s decision to cut ties with companies linked to the Gupta family, saying there were suspicious transactions that flowed in and out of the firm’s bank accounts.

Sinton took the stand at the state capture commission of inquiry on Tuesday and explained that the bank’s decision to cut ties and the risks it identified.

He told the commission about the first time Standard Bank had suspicions and concerns around Gupta-related entities or persons associated with the family.

“There was the prior landing of an aircraft at Air Force Base Waterkloof a couple of years before. In 2015, Absa bank announced that it had terminated all dealings with the Gupta family and the entities that it controlled. KPMG announced that they are withdrawing all their auditing services from those same entities citing reputational risk.”

Sinton said when the bank decided to investigate entities related to the Gupta family, they found suspiciously large amounts of money coming in and out of bank accounts of companies such as Regiments Capital.

“From time to time, there would be a large amount coming in that seemly come from Transnet. Shortly thereafter you could see that often the directors of Regiments would each take an amount typically about R2 million each.”

He said the bank identified risks in its dealings with other Gupta-linked companies such as Oakbay, international consultancy company McKinsey and Trillian Capital Partners.

Sinton said these large payments benefited individuals like Gupta-linked businessmen man Salim Essa, who the commission heard received over 30% of the money Transnet paid to Regiments Capital.

He said while Standard Bank has cut ties with the companies it suspected of illicit financial flows, an investigation is necessary.

“These large amounts of money moving rapidly between companies all managed by people who are associated with one another, gives rise to an inference that there was an attempt to disguise the source of the money. And when you try to disguise of the money, it must be illicit and it warrants an investigation.”

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)

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