Civil action organisation OUTA has called on the SA Reserve Bank to make sure the Gupta-related funds in the Bank of Baroda are not moved offshore, following reports that the Bank intends closing its SA operations. The SARB has confirmed the planned exit.
“OUTA believes public and business pressure was brought to bear against the Bank of Baroda for its continued services to the controversial Guptas,” said Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s CEO, in a statement.
The Bank of Baroda has come under increasing public scrutiny over its continued links with the Guptas, who now have very limited banking options left in South Africa.
In September, OUTA obtained an interim order freezing the rehabilitation funds for the Gupta mines which are held in the Bank of Baroda. The Guptas are opposing this action. The matter is now due to be heard in court in May for a final order.
“The rehab funds are for the Gupta mines but are required by law and are effectively for the public benefit, not for the private use of the mine owners,” Duvenage said, “and OUTA’s action is aimed at preventing misuse and looting of these funds.”
Due to OUTA’s action freezing the rehab funds, the Bank of Baroda will need court approval to move those funds to another bank.
“OUTA’s legal team will be making contact with the South African Reserve Bank to ensure that the rehab funds do not go missing and that the Guptas are not able to use the Bank’s closure to move those or the funds in their other accounts out of the country,” Duvenage said.
“We believe the Reserve Bank will ensure the necessary rules and regulations will apply to protect the interests of all parties in the Bank’s departure. This includes securing the rehabilitation funds for the Gupta mines which OUTA had frozen last year,” says Duvenage.
Last year the Bank became the bank of last resort for the Gupta family after other South African banks dumped their accounts.
In July, OUTA called on the Registrar of Banks to cancel the Bank of Baroda’s banking licence because of the manner in which it was managing the Gupta accounts. Shortly afterwards, the Bank told the Guptas it planned to close their accounts; the Bank and the Guptas ended up in court in the Guptas’ fight to keep the accounts open.
OUTA is a proudly South African non-profit civil action organisation, comprising of and supported by people who are passionate about holding government accountable and improving the prosperity of South Africa.