Gupta-owned companies fight on to prevent Bank of Baroda from leaving SA


JOHANNESBURG, March 1 (ANA) – Twenty companies belonging to the controversial Gupta family are expected to launch an urgent court application in  the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday, in an attempt to prevent the Bank of Baroda from shutting its South African operations.

On February 12, the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) confirmed the Bank of Baroda, India’s state-owned international bank, had notified the registrar of banks of its exit from South Africa.

“The Registrar, which is part of the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb), is in discussions with the Bank of Baroda to ensure its orderly withdrawal from South Africa so that no depositor is disadvantaged,” Sarb said at the time.

“At this stage, the Sarb has no further comments on the matter.”

The Bank of Baroda was the last remaining bank to continue doing business with the controversial Gupta family through which its companies allegedly laundered money.

The bank reported 45 suspicious transactions by Gupta-owned companies amounting to R4.2 billion to the Financial Intelligence Centre between 16 September 2016 and 14 July 2017.

In January, the Bank of Baroda agreed to hand over Gupta-family bank records to South African civil society organisations, following an access to information request by the Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law.

On February 26, former Gupta owned media company TNA appeared to have run into trouble with employees complaining that they have not been paid. Journalists at television station ANN7 and The NewAge newspaper told the Africa News Agency (ANA) that they were supposed to be paid Monday, but their bosses said there was a technical problem that caused the delay.

In August last year, the Guptas sold the media house to Mzwanele Manyi, who could not be reached for comment.

Reports at the time said Gupta-owned Oakbay sold ANN7 and the NewAge through a vendor financing agreement to Manyi-owned firm, Lodidox. This suggested the Guptas loaned Manyi the money to buy their media entities.

Three Gupta owned mines – Shiva Uranium, Optimum and Koornfontein – have all failed to pay their workers salaries for February.

– African News Agency (ANA)