Gordhan‚ Gupta companies may still settle‚ high court suggests

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Gordhan‚ Gupta companies may still settle‚ high court suggests

Ernest Mabuza | 2017-03-28 13:35:24.0

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan . File photo

Image by: Simphiwe Nkwali

The full bench of the high court in Pretoria on Tuesday suggested to the parties in finance minister Pravin Gordhan’s case against the Gupta-controlled companies that they can still settle the matter.

Judge President Judge Dunstan Mlambo made this remark on the first day of the application brought by Gordhan on whether he can interfere in banking relationship between banks and the Gupta-controlled companies.

Gordhan made an application to court last October for an order declaring that he cannot‚ by law‚ intervene in the relationship between the Gupta-controlled companies and banks which closed their accounts last year.

He made this application after the companies entreated him to intervene following the closure of a number of Oakbay group accounts by South African banks earlier last year.

Although the Oakbay companies have agreed with Gordhan that he cannot intervene on their behalf‚ Gordhan still persists with seeking an order‚ despite there being no live dispute between the parties. But first‚ the court made rulings in preliminary issues raised by a number of parties.

The first issue concerned an application raised by Gupta-controlled company Sahara Computers disputing that the State Attorney had authority to act on behalf of Gordhan. Sahara Computers filed a notice with the high court in Pretoria two weeks ago directing Gordhan to satisfy the court that the State Attorney was properly authorised to act for him.

On this issue‚ the court dismissed the application‚ saying it was satisfied that the State Attorney had a requisite authority to act for the finance minister. The second issue was an application by Oakbay to strike out some paragraphs contained in an affidavit by Gordhan on allegations of state capture. In a replying affidavit before the court‚ Gordhan mentioned parts of the Public Protector’s report on state capture last year.

The Public Protector mentioned efforts allegedly made by the Gupta family to offer Jonas the job of finance minister and money in return for doing favours for the family. “This case is not about what is called state capture. This case has nothing to do with (deputy finance minister) Mr (Mcebisi) Jonas‚ and we ask those passages in the reply which go further than what is strictly necessary for the notice of motion for order to be granted to be struck out‚” Oakbay counsel Cedric Puckrin SC had earlier asked the court.

The court agreed that those sections be struck out. The court also dealt with an application by President Jacob Zuma to intervene as an interested party because Standard Bank sought relief that would directly affect him.

“In the matter concerning interested party‚ the president is not cited as party in the proceedings. He seeks to strike out relief sought by Standard Bank. There is no basis for the court to consider his request‚” Mlambo said.

Mlambo said the court would reserve the issue of costs until the end of the case. “I suppose it is not too late for this court to say the parties may still try to settle this matter‚” Mlambo said. The matter continues.

TMG Digital



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