File picture: Reuters

Pretoria - The North Gauteng High Court on Monday dismissed an urgent application filed by 19 Gupta-linked companies wanting to compel the Bank of Baroda to continue offering services to them even though it has already indicated that it wants to close its South African branch.

Judge Ntendeya Mavundla dismissed the application with costs.

Bank of Baroda had previously argued that it wants to terminate the accounts of Gupta-linked Oakbay over reputational risks.

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"You are aware that the group, for some time has been attracting adverse publicity in the media, which in the opinion of the bank, is a potential risk and may affect the interests of the bank to its detriment. In the circumstances, the bank has no option to severe all its ties with the firm," Mavundla said.

The judge said the court can't keep the bank in the country open and operating against its will.

In January, Nedbank informed the Bank of Baroda that it would terminate its relationship with the bank in three months. This means that from April 1, Baroda would not have banking facilities with Nedbank - on which it relies to provide banking services to its own clients.

As a result of the termination, Baroda announced that it was going to shut down its local branch. It also said it was cutting ties with Gupta-linked companies by March 31.

The whereabouts of Gupta brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh, who are close associates of former president Jacob Zuma and his son, Duduzane, remain unknown amid speculation they are fleeing from SA Authorities. Ajay Gupta has been named as a fugitive from the law.

African News Agency/ANA