It’s fighting talk as no-nonsense Gordhan tells grumbling Guptas: Meet me in court

South Africa’s Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is fighting a battle against a rich Indian family, the Guptas, at the centre of the country’s biggest financial scandal in decades. The Guptas are linked to President Jacob Zuma, who has posted allies in influential posts across state entities in an apparent effort to maintain control of cash-flush entities as well as law enforcement agencies. Gordhan holds the keys to the National Treasury and is a powerful stakeholder in the banking sector, which has turned its collective back on the Guptas by refusing to do business with them. Gordhan has recently been under pressure as controversial investigative squad The Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority have worked on developing criminal cases against him on spurious grounds. But Gordhan has defended his corner, lodging explosive information in court about billions of rands worth of irregular transactions that have been reported to the Financial Intelligence Centre – which probes money-laundering. This is a battle of epic proportions, which is why South Africa’s business community has rallied around Gordhan in an unusual show of public support for a minister. Ultimately South Africa’s reputation in international investment circles and its economic wellbeing are at stake. The Gupta family has attacked Gordhan’s affidavit through its lawyers in the public domain. But Gordhan is not backing down. He says he’ll see the Guptas in court to discuss the details – music to the ears of everyone hoping for someone to put a stop to the corruption circus at the highest levels of government. – Jackie Cameron

National Treasury media statement

The National Treasury notes 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 has no intentions of conducting the case in the court of public opinion and will provide a comprehensive and appropriate response in court once the Oakbay respondents have filed their answering affidavits. We would also like to urge the Oakbay to respect the court process.

Pravin Gordhan, South Africa's finance minister.
Pravin Gordhan, South Africa’s finance minister.

In a statement issued today, National Treasury said, “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. 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.

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.

‘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. This will provide an opportunity for all issues to be properly ventilated in an open court’, National Treasury concluded.