Johannesburg – Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments, which is embroiled in a legal battle with Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan, says it will continue to fight his legal bid.
The company’s acting CEO, Ronica Ragavan, said in a statement on Wednesday, that the group will continue to argue for Gordhan’s application to be dismissed.
Its statement follows a Tuesday preliminary decision in which the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled that mention made in the minister’s court papers of 72 suspicious transactions involving the Gupta family and their companies, had to be “striken out” of the papers.
Oakbay Investments wanted the court to strike out a certificate issued by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) referring to 72 transactions involving the Guptas and companies affiliated to them.
These transactions were cited in Gordhan’s application in which he seeks a declaratory order that he has no powers to intervene in the relationship between banks and its clients. That move came after several of SA’s largest banks closed accounts of Gupta-linked companies, which the family – last August – claimed threatened the livelihood of thousands of staff.
Later, the family said it never disputed that Gordhan didn’t have the power to intervene in banking repaltionships.
The Guptas have argued that these transactions are irrelevant to Gordhan's court application.
Ragavan says, in a statement, that the company has “suffered unjustified and severe reputational damage as a result of the minister’s application. His [Gordhan’s] inclusion of the FIC report and Deputy Minister Jonas’ affidavit, which were both struck off yesterday, clearly demonstrate the motives that sit behind the application.
“We will continue to argue in court for this unnecessary application, which is a waste of taxpayers’ money and the court’s time, to be dismissed. As the architect of the application and the campaign to smear Oakbay, if anyone is to withdraw it should be the minister.”
The court case started a day after Gordhan was summonsed home from an international roadshow to the US and UK to sway investors. His recall, by President Jacob Zuma, sparked fears of a Cabinet reshuffle and saw the rand plunge.
The usual Cabinet meeting has now been postponed.
Ragavan adds the company still wants details of the so-called suspicious transactions so it can prove its innocence. It has repeatedly denied that there is anything untoward in the dealings.
“For months we have said the list of 72 transactions has been a tool to smear our name and drive unsubstantiated negative media coverage of our business and our shareholders. When attached to a totally unnecessary application, with no contested legal issue, it becomes clear what the Finance Minister is up to.
One of the deals involves a R1.3 billion transaction.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE