JOHANNESBURG - Gupta family controlled Oakbay Investments on Friday launched a last ditch attempt to salvage its South African operations after tasked the North Gauteng High Court to interdict its last banking partners, Bank of Baroda from closing its accounts, while the bank charged that it had noted R4.2 billion of suspicious transactions by the group in under a year.
The bank said the 45 transactions were conducted by Oakbay between September of last year and July this year. At the heart of the matter is Bank of Baroda’s contention that it will close Oakbay's accounts at the end of this month to avoid reputational risk to its brand.
However, Oakbay is arguing in court that it has been treated unfairly by the bank and it would suffer "irreparable harm” if the bank goes ahead and shuts down its accounts and 7000 jobs will be on the line.
Also read: Oakbay sells ANN7, The New Age
Oakbay has recently come under intense pressure and scrutiny from financial services company’s who have cut their ties with the group over “reputational risks”.
Earlier this week, the Bank of Baroda was fined R11 million by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) after the anti graft unit accused the bank of flaunting a range of anti-corruption and money laundering laws to help the Gupta family buy the controversial Optimum Coal mine last year.
All big four of South Africa’s banks have already severed ties with Oakbay, while auditing firm KPMG has also cut business ties with the company. The group’s isolation by the financial services companies has seen the group disposing of its media assets. The New Age newspaper and 24-hour news channel ANN7 to former government spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi for R450m. This disposal was followed by Oakbay selling its Tegeta mining operations to a little known Swiss international.
The court was expected to hand down its judgment in the foreseeable future.
- BUSINESS REPORT