Mineral Resources Minister and ANC chair Gwede Mantashe says that he will approach Standard Bank CEO Sim Tshabalala to explain that the ANC did not intend to pressurise the bank which had closed the Gupta family accounts.
On Monday, Standard Bank’s former general legal counsel Ian Sinton dropped bombshell after bombshell at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture as he revealed chapter and verse of how both the ANC and Cabinet members had put political pressure on Standard Bank after it closed various Gupta entity accounts as allegations of corruption piled up.
Mantashe told Daily Maverick that he believed the bank had misread the ANC’s intentions when it met summonsed executives to a meeting at Luthuli House on 21 April 2016.
“Standard Bank was asked in the meeting to respond to the accusation that it was colluding with ‘white monopoly capital’ to oppress black-owned business in the form of the Gupta entities. Standard Bank was also asked why it continued to bank construction companies that had been fined for collusion in the construction of stadia… yet had closed the accounts of the Gupta entities that had not been convicted by any court.”
He added that while Standard Bank had no difficulty meeting with the governing party, “… the fact that the ANC requested the meeting at the behest of Oakbay (a Gupta family holding company) evidenced the extent of Oakbay’s political influence at the highest echelons of political office-bearers in South Africa.”
Mantashe said Sinton’s evidence was “to the extreme” and that his (Mantashe’s) recollection of the meeting was different.
“White monopoly capital was not our angle,” said Mantashe, who added, “I’m going to Tshabalala (Sim, the CEO of Standard Bank) to explain.”
Mantashe said he had always been opposed to the establishment of a Cabinet inter-ministerial committee led by then mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane to investigate the closure of the Gupta family accounts.
Asked why the ANC leadership had called in the banks, he said that it was “not unusual. The issue was topical. We didn’t pressure them (the banks).”
Mantashe revealed that FNB had refused to attend a meeting when called by the ANC while Nedbank CEO Mike Brown had met with the ANC of his own volition and not after being summonsed.
“We didn’t regard the meetings as hostile,” said Mantashe. DM
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