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Standard Bank files explosive affidavit seeking protection from political interference

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Standard Bank has filed an explosive affidavit in the High Court in Pretoria appealing for protection against executive interference in the bank and detailing the extensive political pressure it came under from the ruling ANC party‚ Cabinet ministers and Oakbay after its closed the company’s accounts.

BusinessLIVE reports the affidavit is in support of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s application for a declaratory order from the court‚ confirming that he does not have the authority to intervene in relationships between banks and their clients.

Standard Bank‚ which is also named as a respondent‚ has gone further than Gordhan’s application‚ requesting the court to confirm that no member of the executive‚ and not just the finance minister‚ may interfere in banking relationships.

The affidavit by group counsel Ian Sinton‚ filed on Wednesday‚ also reveals that Standard Bank was asked to meet both the African National Congress as well as the Cabinet inter-ministerial committee‚ in an attempt to place it under political pressure to reverse its decision.

The arguments advanced in both meetings as well as in a third meeting with former Oakbay CEO Nazeem Howa were “substantially the same”.

The meeting with the ANC‚ which took place at Luthuli House on April 21‚ included ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe‚ his deputy Jessie Duarte and the head of the ANC’s economic transformation committee‚ Enoch Godongwana.

In the meeting Standard Bank CEO Sim Tshabalala was asked to respond to the accusation “that it was colluding with monopoly capital to oppress a black-owned business”.

On May 5‚ Tshabalala meet with members of the Cabinet inter-ministerial committee‚ which had been tasked to meet the banks to discuss the Gupta accounts.

Present at this meeting were Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane‚ Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant and Mzwanele Manyi‚ who “stated that he was attending in his capacity as a ministerial adviser”.

“It was clear from the inquiries directed by the minister and their adviser … that their main concern was the Oakbay accounts. They wanted to secure an outcome favourable to Oakbay‚ by using their political and executive power‚” says Sinton’s affidavit.

In addition to the meetings‚ it is also revealed that Oakbay had lobbied an international shareholder of Standard Bank claiming that it had illegally colluded with other banks and saying that its motivations in closing the accounts were racist.

This was done without informing Standard Bank.

Prior to meeting Tshabalala to discuss the accounts‚ Oakbay had also indicated its intention to sue the bank. However‚ Howa later said a letter to this effect had been sent in error.

[Source: Timeslive]
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