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Mantashe claims ANC didn’t mean to pressurise Standard Bank over Gupta accounts

Speaking to the Daily Maverick, Mineral Resources Minister and ANC chair Gwede Mantashe said that the party did not intend to pressurise Standard Bank over its decision to close the Gupta family’s accounts.

Mantashe claimed that “white monopoly capital” was not the angle the ANC went with in the meeting.

IOL reports that Standard Bank’s former head of legal compliance, Ian Sinton, testified that ANC deputy general Jesse Duarte and the had of the ANC’s sub committee on economic transformation Enoch Godongwana asked if the banks decision to close the Gupta family’s accounts was part of a plan by “white monopoly capital” to keep black out of business.

They also asked if they got the instructions to close the accounts from Stellenbosch.

The issue of  7‚500 job losses that could ensue if the Guptas accounts were closed was also raised according to Business LIVE.

Not only this, but  former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane told Standard Bank that government had given the bank its license, and could change the law to deny the bank the ability to close accounts.

So why did Standard close the Gupta accounts?

According to EWN, the decision started when Absa decided it didn’t want to do business with the Guptas.

“It was reported that Absa bank had elected to terminate all banking relations with the Gupta group. We would accept that Absa Bank is bound by the same laws as we are.”

That however was not the only reason, according to Fin24 while Standard was investigating KPMG resigned as Oakbay’s auditors, and former deputy minister Mcebisi Jonas went public with his allegations that he was offered R600,000 by the Guptas to become the new finance minister.

This along with Mines minister Mosebenzi Zwane’s alleged trip to Switzerland with the Guptas to sell Optimum coal mine raised serious questions.

Concerns were also raised when Gupta-owned Tegeta demanded that R1.45bn, contained in a trust account set up solely for the rehabilitation of the mine, be transferred to Bank of Baroda according to News24.

Standard banked the Estina Dairy deal, so it was worried that it might be involved in corruption and money laundering.

My Take

Either Mantashe is lying, or Sinton is, because there is no way the events described could have had any intention other than pressuring the bank.

Personally I think Mantashe is the liar – Sinton’s version of events is consistent with what has already been published on the whole Gupta affair, and ties in quite strongly with what was been reported about Zwane’s involvement with the Gupta family.

Now I often engage in bashing people, but I think it is also important to give credit where its due – and in this case it is due to Standard Bank’s head Sim Tshabalala.

He was faced with a government that threatened his bank’s license to operate, potentially threatening 40,000 employees, and he didn’t blink, he didn’t bend. The pressure on him must have been incredible, and yet his integrity held fast.

That deserves every praise I can give. If what Sinton is saying is true, Tshabalala demonstrated his true metal here, and that metal was gold.

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