Guptas say they are victims

Indian businessmen Ajay Gupta and younger brother Atul Gupta. Photo: Gallo / Martin Rhodes

JOHANNESBURG - The Gupta family say they will reveal how they are victims of a planned, concerted and politically driven smear campaign.

They plan to file court documents in their heated battle with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and South Africa's major banks on 20 January.

Three judges will hear Gordhan’s application for an order that he cannot interfere in the banks’ decision to sever ties with the family.

The Guptas argue that this is completely unnecessary and aimed solely at discrediting them.

Last year, Gordhan brought an extraordinary application to court asking that he be legally ordered to stay out of the Gupta family’s bitter battle with the major banks.

In that application he suggested that R6.8-billion in “suspicious and unusual transactions” may have led the banks to close accounts associated with the Gupta family.

Gordhan effectively enabled the banks to override client confidentiality by involving them in the case and they all did.

Some claim that concerns over money-laundering drove their decisions.

The Gupta family believe that the case is part of a plot against them.

“The application is a superfluous application, it should never have been bought, it was just a means to an end goal: and that was to smear," Gert van der Merwe, the Gupta's lawyer, said. "My instructions are that this campaign, executed in choir, all the same voice, and for some even overwhelming, [is] with one purpose and that is to eliminate the business of the Gupta family and to gain obvious political achievement, of which we read every day,” 

Van der Merwe said the constitutions says one is innocent until proven guilty but that does not seem to be the case for the Guptas.

“The fact of the matter is that this is the experience they’ve lived on a daily basis. We have a constitution. That constitution says until you’re found guilty you’re innocent. When you’re a Gupta it’s different. When you’re a Gupta, you’re guilty until proven innocent, and I don’t understand that,” said Van der Merwe.

Van der Merwe says the family will prove their conspiracy claims in court documents due to be filed in just over a week.

The Guptas are also fighting with financial intelligence authorities for more information about their so-called suspicious transactions.

President Jacob Zuma will ask the North Gauteng High Court to set aside former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report. It requires him to institute a commission of inquiry into allegations of political interference by the Gupta family, who say they won’t be participating in this court action.

They add that they will be happier testifying at any such inquiry. 

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