The explosive dossier contained in Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s application before the Pretoria High Court reveals a series of letters over a period of four months detailing the lengths the Oakbay went to convince him to intervene on their behalf after the banks withdrew their services to the company.
Nazeem Howa, the chief executive of of the Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments, wrote numerous letters to Gordhan lobbying him to take action, despite the minister stating there was no law that empowered him to interfere in client-related matters with registered banks.
Howa’s correspondence between April and September is characterised by him pleading with Gordhan, even though the minister insisted Oakbay had not exhausted all legal remedies.
Gordhan pulled a surprise move last Friday when he filed the documents asking the court for an order declaring that he is not by law empowered or obliged to intervene in the relationship between Oakbay companies and the banks.
He has also given a platform to the banks, the Finance Intelligence Centre (FIC), among other respondents, to state the reasons behind their unprecedented decision to close the accounts.
Gordhan reportedly appeared in August after ongoing correspondence with Oakbay to have had enough of the letters and the insistence that he could interfere with the “relations between registered banks and their clients”.
- Following the banks announcements in April to sever ties with Oakbay, Howa wrote to Gordhan on April 8 informing him about the “unexplained” decision of a number of banks, saying the company was unable to pay more than 4 500 employees.
- Subsequent to the first letter, on April 18, Howa apologised to Gordhan if his initial letter came across as hostile.
- After Gordhan met with Howa on May 24, he wrote to him mentioning that there were legal impediments to any registered bank discussing client-related matters with the finance minister or any third party.
- Oakbay subsidiary Sahara Computers’ CEO Stephan Nel wrote to a letter on June 28 warning that the company was forced to make 140 employees redundant after its bank accounts were closed.
- On July 25, Howa wrote to Gordhan giving him an update on the consequences of the banks’ decision.
- In his response to the letter on August 10, Gordhan expressed his concern that Oakbay still did not accept that he, as the minister of finance, according to law, was unable to interfere.
Gordhan also stated in his reply that Oakbay had promised on May 24 to provide all relevant information from the banks, but this never happened. The minister gave the company a deadline of August 12 to make any further representations.
- On September 9‚ Howa said he was happy to share his full file of correspondence.
The court papers show that this is where the correspondence between both parties had ended.