Guptas not delighted as Gordhan refuses to drop case

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14 March 2016 - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is quizzed about more than investment as he faces a barrage of issues following his return from a roadtrip to placate investors.

CAPE TOWN – The Oakbay group of companies on Wednesday said South Africa’s finance minister had “declined the offer to withdraw” an application he made to the Pretoria High Court last Friday.

Last week Parivn Gordhan submitted an affidavit asking the court for an order declaring that he cannot interfere with the banks’ decision to drop the Oakbay group of companies.

READ: Gordhan blows whistle on Guptas' R6.8bn 'suspicious and unusual payments'

A statement on Tuesday, released on behalf of the Gupta family and Oakbay Investments, had said they were “delighted” to have been cited as respondents to the application filed by the minister over suspicious transactions, allegations they described as “undiluted nonsense”.

It had continued: “At last, the Gupta family and Oakbay can begin to formally clear their names”, and thanked Gordhan for “this opportunity”.

However a statement released on behalf of Oakbay Investments and the Gupta's on Wednesday, said their attorneys had written to the minister, also on Tuesday, describing claims in the affidavit as “uncalled for, malicious and nothing but vexatious”.

Tuesday’s statement, much more measured in tone, had said the finance minister’s application was being considered by lawyers for the family and Oakbay and that “each and every entry would be dealt with in full”.

Saying that initial analysis showed fundamental flaws in the application and the 72 transactions flagged as suspicious, the statement pledged full disclosure once the analysis had been completed.

“To reiterate, we are delighted to have received this application. The truth always comes out in the end and we look forward to clearing our name in court,” the statement concluded.

The purpose of Wednesday’s statement, however, was to “offer the minister of finance the opportunity to save taxpayers money”.

Wednesday’s statement added: “To spend taxpayers’ money in ‘a reckless and inappropriate manner’ would constitute a contravention of the provisions of the Public Management Act, No.1 of 1999 – which would warrant ‘further action against those officials responsible for same’.”

The statement also said that attorneys for the Gupta's, Van Der Merwe Associates "VDMA also noted that its clients “would like” to put their formal version before court since the Minister of Finance has chosen that forum, so if the application is not withdrawn then 'the matter must proceed and we will gladly do the necessary in order to restore the misrepresentation created by the papers.”

The statement concluded by noting that the attorneys for the minister of finance had on Wednesday “declined the offer to withdraw the application and tender costs”.

- Additional reporting ANA -