Oakbay claims are ‘sensational and politically-driven’‚ says Treasury

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In October Gordhan applied for a declaratory order confirming that he could not intervene in a dispute between the company and four major banks that closed the company’s accounts.

Gordhan’s papers contained details about “suspicious” bank transactions by Gupta-owned companies totalling almost R6.8bn‚ which could have contributed to the banks closing accounts belonging to the Guptas.

On Friday‚ lawyers for the Gupta family filed a responding affidavit in the matter‚ accusing the minister of using the judiciary to settle political scores and charging that his application for a declaratory order was merely a smokescreen to persuade the general public that the Guptas were involved in dubious and inappropriate transactions.

In its affidavit‚ Oakbay claimed “sources” had revealed that Gordhan‚ in a meeting with 60 captains of industry‚ had stated that steps had to be taken to “clip the wings” of the Gupta family.

“The timing of the minister’s application supports the Oakbay Group’s suspicions that the application is politically motivated and is part of the minister’s ongoing plan to diminish the Oakbay Group and the Gupta family and to damage their hard-earned South African business‚” the company said.

Van der Merwe & Associates‚ lawyers for Oakbay Investments‚ said the minister’s application was “superfluous” and riddled with factual and legal errors.

In its response‚ the National Treasury said on Saturday its legal team was studying the affidavit.

However‚ it accused Oakbay of making “sensational and politically-driven claims and allegations”‚ which it said were designed to deflect from the primary issues raised in the minister’s declaratory order.

“Strikingly Oakbay’s answer in the media statement is that it does not contest the Minister’s legal contentions: ‘[t]here is no contested legal issue here and there is never [sic] any reason for the Minister to bring [sic] this application’.

“Yet Oakbay ‘calls on the court’ to refuse a declaratory order‚ based on legal contentions it concedes it is unable to contest‚” the Treasury said.

It said Gordhan believed that it “was wrong to anticipate the determination of the issues by the court in the way the Gupta-controlled companies seek to do”‚ adding that the court process should be respected.

“The Minister will respond‚ inter alia to Oakbay’s concession that it does not now contest the Minister’s legal contentions‚ and its attempt (inter alia via the ‘international investigative firm’ which it has now ‘engaged’ to ‘review the 72 transactions’) in the court process. The Minister will do so‚ in accordance with proper legal practice‚ in his replying affidavit‚ to be filed on 27 January 2017‚” Treasury said.

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