Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas has responded to Ajay Gupta’s claims that he had never met him before and that the Gupta family had never attempted to bribe him.
The elder Gupta brother filed court papers last Friday at the Pretoria High Court, stating in an affidavit that he wanted to “clearly and unambiguously state under oath that I have never met Mr Mcebisi Jonas” for a meeting at the Gupta’s Saxonwold residence in 2015.
He accused the minister of being “blatantly dishonest”.
Duduzane Zuma, one of President Jacob Zuma’s sons and businessman Fana Hlongwane, who were at a meeting with Jonas that day, said in separate affidavits that Ajay was not there.
Ironically, both affidavits have a typing error that shows the meeting was held in October 2017.
Fin24 reported on Friday that Jonas has filed a responding affidavit that dispels Ajay Gupta’s allegation.
“I … met Mr Ajay Gupta at his Saxonwold residence on 23 October 2015 and … he did speak to me on that day,” Jonas said.
The deputy minister previously made the claims in a media statement and to then public protector Thuli Madonsela during her “state capture” investigation after saying at the time he could no longer remain quiet about the Gupta family offering him former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene’s job and R600 million to do them favours once in office.
The legal action stems from Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s court application seeking a declaratory order from the court and protection from the Guptas, stating there was no law that empowered him to interfere in the decision by the country’s four major banks to close accounts belonging to Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments companies.
In his application the Gordhan had named 72 “dubious and unusual” transactions totalling R6.8 billion by the Guptas flagged by the Financial Intelligence Centre.
The hearing for the application is set to be heard on March 28.
In his court papers filed on Thursday, Jonas said both Zuma and Hlongwane’s affidavits “confirm explicitly that the meeting indeed occurred”.
“All that they seek to do is to ‘confirm that Mr Ajay Kumar Gupta was not present’ during the ’25 October 2017 [sic]’ meeting.
“Even if one is to understand the reference to be to 25 October 2015 [instead of 2017], then the confirmatory affidavits remain materially defective. This is, because as I have stated and the Public Protector’s report records, the relevant meeting occurred on 23 October 2015.
“Therefore, the absence of Mr Ajay Gupta at a meeting two days later, on 25 October 2015, fails to confirm the necessary allegation. In any event … the key issue is that the meeting … took place at the Saxonwold compound shared by the Gupta brothers and their families and that a Gupta brother was present,” Jonas said.
Read the full affidavit below: