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Treasury finds Guptas' attack on Gordhan ‘peculiar in the extreme’

Oct 21 2016 11:45
Cape Town – Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan did not make any “pronouncement or interpretation” on the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) report he included in his affidavit in a case centred on the Guptas, his office said on Friday.

Last Friday, Gordhan asked the Pretoria high court to rule that he has no obligation to intervene in a decision by the country’s top five banks to blacklist Gupta-controlled companies like Oakbay Investments.

Since then, the Guptas have led a media campaign to discredit Gordhan’s application, calling into question the FIC report that shows they were cited for 72 alleged suspect transactions totalling R6.8bn.

On Wednesday, the Guptas announced they would oppose the application, saying that "none of the transactions related to Oakbay or the family, which are over a five-year period, were flagged to the FIC as suspicious”.

Oakbay claimed the affidavit “insinuated” that the Guptas would “expose the fiscus not only to loss of tax revenue but also put the burden of mining rehabilitation on the fiscus”.

On Friday, Treasury criticised the Guptas, their lawyers Van Der Merwe Associates and Oakbay Investments for waging a media campaign and welcomed their responding affidavit, which they will table in court on Friday.

It said Treasury noted “the numerous attacks launched by the lawyers representing the Oakbay Group of companies on the affidavit filed by the Treasury in the Oakbay litigation as well as the contradictions contained therein”.

“National Treasury wishes to also point out that the affidavit by the minister has not made any pronouncement or interpretation on the FIC report and has sought solely to put the material facts before court,” Treasury said.

“We welcome the announcement by Oakbay respondents that they intend to oppose the application after their unsuccessful attempt to coerce the Minister into withdrawing the matter,” Treasury said. “This will provide an opportunity for all issues to be properly ventilated in an open court.”

“It is peculiar in the extreme for the aforementioned respondents to address the issues raised in the affidavit by way of media releases as these make no meaningful contribution to the case at hand,” Treasury said.

“The minister has presented his case under oath in an appropriate forum and it is incumbent upon the Oakbay respondents to do likewise should they wish to oppose his version.”

Treasury said it won’t conduct the case in the court of public opinion and said it “will provide a comprehensive and appropriate response in court once the Oakbay respondents have filed their answering affidavits”.

“We would also like to urge Oakbay to respect the court process.”

The Guptas, who are in business with President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane, were investigated by former public protector Thuli Madonsela for state capture. She was unable to table her report last Friday, after a court ruled that an indictment application by Zuma and former finance minister Des van Rooyen had to be heard first.

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