Mantashe tells inquiry Oakbay wanted ANC to 'put pressure' on banks
Johannesburg - ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe has told the Zondo Commission how Oakbay Resources executives begged the party to step in when Gupta-linked companies’ bank accounts were closed by country’s big banks.
Mantashe, who was testifying on behalf of the ruling party, said the former Oakbay CEO Nazim Howa pleaded in a letter to meet with party’s top officials to discuss the closure of Oakbay bank accounts.
Howa emphasised the issue of possible job losses if the the decision of the big four banks was not reversed and how it would make it hard for the company to do business.
In 2016 the country’s big banks, FNB, Absa, Standard Bank and Nedbank decided to cut ties with the Guptas.
Representatives from the bank testified at the commission that their decision was not done in collusion. The banks cited suspicious transactions and reputational risk as a reason to close Gupta related bank accounts.
Mantashe said the ANC held two meetings with Oakbay. In the last meeting with ANC officials, it was decided that Mantashe should lead a delegation to meet the banks.
“The issue of the closure of the bank accounts of Oakbay was a topical matter in the public domain. Oakbay came to the ANC mainly emphasising the possibility of the loss of jobs,” said Mantashe.
"Many of the organisations that lobbied wanted the ANC to put pressure on the banks to reconsider their decision to close the accounts, they thought we would join the campaign.
"We took a decision that we can’t deal with this issue from one angle, we need to get the view of the banks, and how they operate and what leads to the closure of accounts," he said.
Mantashe said after the party met with banks it was decided that they could not interfere in the banks’ relationship with their clients.
Mantashe also told the inquiry that the issue of state capture was something the party was dealing with.
The ANC chairperson said the party would be back to address other issues that come up during the inquiry.
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