The controversial Gupta family, at the centre of “state capture” allegations, reportedly intends to reveal in court documents next week how they are victims of a “planned, concerted and politically driven smear campaign”.
In an interview with television news channel eNCA on Monday, the family’s lawyer Gert van der Merwe described Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2016 high court application seeking a declaratory order that government cannot intervene in the banks’ decision to close their companies’ bank accounts earlier last year as “superfluous”.
“The application is a superfluous application, it should never have been brought, it was just a means to an end goal: and that was to smear.
“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,” he said.
Van der Merwe said the Guptas would prove their conspiracy claims in court documents due to be filed on 20 January.
Gordhan’s extraordinary application galvanised the country’s major banks in supporting his application. One major bank, FNB, in December revealed why it closed bank accounts associated with the politically exposed family.
FirstRand CEO Johan Burger said there were suspicions that the accounts were being used to launder money. The bank also said it had closed the accounts due to the associated reputational and business risk.
Gordhan’s application in October named 72 “dubious and unusual” transactions totalling R6.8 billion.
The Guptas have never approached a court to review the banks’ decision to sever ties with them but have rather pressurised government to act on their behalf.
Van der Merwe said the country’s constitution states that one is innocent until proven guilty, but that hasn’t been 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,” he said.
The Guptas are also fighting with the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) for more information about their allegedly suspicious transactions.