Finance minister Nhlanhla Nene prepares to testify at the state capture inquiry. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has testified that contrary to assertions by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), he did reply to their letter sent in May this year, in which he denied allegations that he was the gateway for the Guptas to access Public Investment Corporation (PIC) funding.

Testifying in the state capture inquiry on Wednesday, the minister said in the letter, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu requested him to respond to a number of questions regarding his relationship with the controversial family.

''They [EFF]  insinuated that I facilitated access to the PIC for the Guptas while I was deputy minister of finance. I confirmed that I had met some members of the Gupta family during government functions, and that both in my roles at PIC and as finance minister, I have been approached by different companies requiring my help in securing finance, especially from the PIC. I said that in all instances these individuals, with no exception to companies, were informed that they should approach the PIC directly through its formal channels,'' Nene said.

He added that the EFF statement that he has never replied to their letter was incorrect, because he responded on June 12 this year. 

Nene was chairman of PIC and its non executive director in his capacity as deputy minister of finance between 2009 and 2014. Later in September, Shivambu sent Parliamentary questions to Nene on the same subject, to which he responded, denying allegations of working with the Guptas. He added that all investments approved by PIC are made in accordance with its mandate.

''I deny that I acted improperly regarding the PIC investments when I was deputy minister or finance minister. I deny that I promoted funding from the PIC for any business involving my son, as the EFF has also alleged [recently] on social media.''

Nene said the EFF alleged on social media that his son benefited from PIC funding, but he did not elaborate more on what the nature of funding was as alleged against his son. The PIC, he added, has been requested to provide any evidence about such a transaction. Furthermore, it has been alleged that his wife received funds through a foreign account. Nene said he rejects the allegation ''with the contempt it deserves'' as his wife does not have a foreign held bank account and neither has she received funding from anyone.

''I find the timing of these allegations interesting and the manner in which they were raised on social media and not through appropriate channels. That these came just a few days before my appearance before the commission is very interesting and strange,'' Nene said.

Evidence leader Paul Pretorious said the inquiry will investigate the EFF accusations against Nene.

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African News Agency (ANA)