Gordhan application ‘stillborn’ – Oakbay counsel
Ernest Mabuza | 2017-03-29 16:10:32.0
Advocate Cedric Puckrin representing Oakbay Investments looks on during a break at a court hearing in Pretoria.
Image by: SIPHIWE SIBEKO
The application by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for an order that he does not have the power to intervene in the relationship the four major banks have with Gupta-controlled companies is “stillborn”.
Oakbay Investments counsel Cedric Puckrin SC told the Full Bench of the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday the law was clear and the court did not have to grant the minister the order he sought.
Oakbay is opposing the application by Gordhan. Standard Bank‚ Absa‚ First National Bank and Nedbank closed Oakbay accounts last year.
Gordhan approached the court in October after a number of letters from Oakbay asking Gordhan to intervene on Oakbay’s behalf in its dispute with the banks. The four banks all support Gordhan’s application.
While counsel for the minister Jeremy Gauntlett SC said the order‚ if granted‚ would be binding on everyone in the sector‚ Puckrin said this was not the case as it related only to Oakbay companies.
Puckrin said that in the founding papers by Gordhan in October last year‚ there was no suggestion from the last letter Gordhan received from Oakbay in July that Oakbay would “nag” the minister.
“The bank accounts had been closed. The question is: What is the actual effect of this order‚” Puckrin said.
Puckrin said the law was clear and the court did not have to grant the minister the order he sought.
“The reason we say this case becomes academic and abstract is that there is no dispute. The law is agreed between all the parties.”
Puckrin said the relief the minister sought was restricted to a narrow purview of the facts and it was restricted to a narrow range of respondents.
“There is complete disconnect between the public interest and what is being sought.” Puckrin said in the absence of countervailing public interest‚ the court should be disinclined to give legal advice to Gordhan.
“The court would not pronounce on abstract and hypothetical cases.”
He asked that Gordhan’s application be dismissed with costs.