Cabinet to probe banks' decisions on Gupta accounts

FNB Johannesburg headquarters

The headquarters of the First National Bank, Bank City, downtown Johannesburg.

PARLIAMENT – Cabinet endorsed the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to investigate the decision by the country’s major banks to cut ties with Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said on Thursday.

During a media briefing outlining decisions made during last week’s fortnightly cabinet meeting, Radebe said cabinet was concerned that the decision could scare off investors.

“Cabinet noted the action by the four banks that gave notice to close the bank accounts of the company,” Radebe said.

“The actions deter future investors who may want to do business in South Africa.”

Radebe said the ministers of finance, mineral resources and labour have been tasked with setting up a meeting with the banks to “open constructive talks to find lasting a solution”.

The minister denied that this could be seen as government interference in the private sector or bullying.

“No, that is why the team of ministers would be interacting with banks to find out the facts.”

Oakbay has complained that the closure of bank accounts could lead to thousands of job losses at the company.

The closure of the bank accounts follows allegations by, among others, Deputy Finance Minister Mncedisi Jonas, that the Guptas had offered him a promotion prior to Nhlanhla Nene being fired as finance minister last year.

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