Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has insisted he did not have the legal right to intervene in the matter between the banks and the Guptas.
The battle between Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and the Gupta family has intensified, with accusations of mudslinging, victim-playing and abuse of the court system.

Gordhan on Monday accused the family of waging a political campaign against him and the National Treasury, and denied his application for a declaratory order against the family was politically motivated.

But the Guptas, through their company Oakbay Investments, hit back and said Gordhan was playing victim in the matter.

The family said they never suggested Gordhan can intervene in the matter of the banks with them, but he was using the court to settle political scores.

In his answering affidavit on Monday, Gordhan insisted he did not have the legal right to intervene in the matter between the banks and the Guptas.

He described the answering papers by the Guptas as "scurrilous".

“It is the duty of the minister of finance to uphold the integrity of the financial sector and to safeguard the Treasury from inappropriate interference by influential individuals,” said Gordhan.

The Guptas said Gordhan was playing victim and insisted he was abusing the court process.

“Today’s affidavit is a case of reverse victim syndrome. The applicant proactively came after us and smeared our name with a flawed list of transactions, that he used his unique executive powers to obtain, and then questions the manner of our response to him,” said a statement from Oakbay Investments.

“All of this changes nothing. Our bank accounts remain closed and no evidence exists to prove why that is the case. We look forward to clearing our name in court,” said Oakbay.

Gordhan said he was glad that the Gupta family, through Oakbay, acknowledged in their opposing affidavit two weeks ago that, as minister of finance, he cannot intervene in the matter of the banks.

He said he brought the application in October in the national interest, to protect the economy and the financial and banking sectors.

However, the Guptas said in their affidavit Gordhan’s application was politically driven, and he had lodged it days before he was arrested by the Hawks last year, and before the release of the public protector’s State of Capture report.

The minister said there was no basis for the Guptas to oppose his application in the high court in Pretoria.

“There is nothing ‘improper’ or ‘political’ by an incoming minister of finance distancing himself from an influential family alleged to have been involved in the appointment of his immediate predecessor,” he said.

“There has been no improper conduct or ‘political’ retaliation on my part,” Gordhan said, adding that he had no vendetta against the Gupta family as they have claimed.

“I deny in particular any suggestion of a vendetta against the Guptas. No admissible factual basis exists for this extraordinary claim,” he said.

Gordhan added that the family had made similar claims against others, yet the public protector had found in her report that they had tried to bribe Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas.

Gordhan said Oakbay in its own application confirmed that he has no legal basis to intervene in the matter of the banks.

He said this belated concession by Oakbay flew in the face of its own answering papers that decisive action was needed against the banks.

Gordhan said the Guptas do not have substantive grounds to oppose his application, and he wants the court to grant him an order.

He denied that he was responsible for the closure of the accounts of the Guptas. If that was the case, the family would not have approached him for assistance.

The Guptas said they had pointed out in their papers that Gordhan’s application was ridden with factual and legal errors.

In addition, his reliance on the list of 72 purported “suspicious transactions reports” was misplaced, the family said.

Political Bureau