National 22.9.2016 09:30 am

Gupta PR company knew about Zwane’s bank probe before Cabinet – report

Minister of Mineral Affairs Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane at the Africa Mining Indaba on February 8, 2016 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Business Day / Trevor Samson)

Minister of Mineral Affairs Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane at the Africa Mining Indaba on February 8, 2016 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Business Day / Trevor Samson)

The UK-based public relations firm representing the Gupta family apparently knew of the probe long before everyone else did.

It has been revealed that Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane’s proposal to establish a judicial inquiry into the country’s financial sector and review key banking legislation was known by the Gupta family’s public relations firm seven weeks before Cabinet did.

According to an exclusive report by Fin24, details of the minister’s recommendations were shared with UK-based Bell Pottinger as early as July 15, when the company tried to leak a copy containing Zwane’s “findings” to the media.

This has raised fresh speculation about the minister’s close proximity to the controversial family, who are friends of President Jacob Zuma and have been accused of state capture and having intimate knowledge of decisions made by the national executive. The public protector is currently investigating them for this.

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Earlier this month Zwane caused a storm when he announced that Cabinet had taken a resolution to initiate the judicial probe after the country’s major banks withdraw their services to the family’s primary company, Oakbay Investments.

Cabinet has since distanced itself from Zwane’s pronouncement; however, he maintains the decision is pending and will be finalised.

The minister headed Cabinet’s inter-ministerial committee (IMC) to find out why the banks blacklisted the Guptas’ companies, although nothing came from it.

“Minister Zwane is a member of the task team. He does not speak on behalf of Cabinet and the contents of his statements do not reflect the position or views of Cabinet, the presidency or government,” said presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga at the time.

Fin24 reports that Bell Pottinger had sent it a picture of a page from a confidential document containing the IMC’s recommendations to Cabinet in July, telling the online publication it had “a scoop” for them.

 

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