The minister of finance’s replying affidavit filed in court on Monday appears to comprehensively argue every point raised by the Oakbay group of companies and forcefully refutes the assertion that Pravin Gordhan had a vendetta against the family.
Points raised in the report into state capture also comes to the fore again in the minister’s reply.
But to begin with, the minister shows little tolerance towards all the off-the-ball stuff going on, saying that his founding affidavit (in which he seeks declaratory relief from the courts to assert that he cannot intervene in the banker-client relationship) was purely a question of law. “Yet it has been purportedly met with wide-ranging and extraneous factual allegations by Oakbay.”
Some of these allegations were that the minister has a political vendetta against the Gupta family. He appeared to firmly address this: “I deny in particular any suggestion of a vendetta against the Guptas. No admissible factual basis exists for this extraordinary claim. Oakbay has indiscriminately advanced similar claims against others. Now it advances the same accusation against me. But only now is it for the first time contended that I am somehow the author of a grand political plot against the Guptas.”
Gordhan also questions why, if Oakbay and the Guptas thought he had a political vendetta against them, would they even bother approaching him, not once, but on multiple occasions. He added: “Nor would I have invited Oakbay to substantiate its allegations against the banks (which Oakbay undertook to do, but never did).”
“I therefore ask that all allegations in the main answering affidavit advancing these accusations be struck out with costs. Not only is it inadmissible hearsay, it is also defamatory, scurrilous, vexatious and vague in the extreme.”
Oakbay, in its responding affidavit, conceded the point on whether the minister could intervene, and described the request for relief as needless and purely academic. It also referred to the minister as being “politically weak-kneed” to approach the courts over such a trivial matter.
But the minister’s affidavit strongly disputes this. He refers to the continued threats of “investigations” and “decisive action” against the banks “after they have acted pursuant to international and national obligations to counter serious crimes are highly prejudicial to the country’s economy”. He, as the person responsible for the functioning and well-being of the financial system, has a keen interest in understanding if, and how, he could intervene in a matter that affects the integrity of the system.
The affidavit concludes with what he deems as the real issue behind the campaign to publicise the closing of the accounts and Oakbay’s insistence that he intervene. “In truth, what stands revealed as the real plot is the systematic and highly organised campaign by the Gupta family and its associates against the national treasury, myself and other targets.”
Oakbay filed this response to the release of the minister’s responding affidavit: “Today’s affidavit is a case of reverse victim syndrome. The applicant proactively came after us and smeared our name with a flawed list of transactions — that he used his unique executive power to obtain — and then questions the manner of our response to him. All of this changes nothing. Our bank accounts remain closed and no evidence exists to prove why that is the case. We look forward to clearing our name in court.”
- This article was originally published on Moneyweb and is used here with permission