Court affirms closure of Guptas accounts in Bank of Baroda

Shell

A North Gauteng High Court dismissed the Guptas’ bid to prevent the Bank of Baroda from closing its accounts. The judge Hans Fabricius said requirements to get a court order stopping the closures weren’t established.

The application, which was brought by 20 companies linked to the family, was however dismissed with costs which literally means that they have to remove their money from the bank by the end of the month.

Companies controlled by the Gupta family, whose accounts are being closed down by Bank of Baroda, took legal action against the lender to try and stop the termination, which comes after South Africa’s four biggest lenders cut banking services for the family that’s in business with a son of President Jacob Zuma.

The deadline for the closure of the accounts has been extended to the end of September by the India-based bank, Gary Naidoo, a spokesperson for the family and their companies, told Bloomberg in August.

“This has not been afforded by the Bank of Baroda to enable these companies to transfer their banking facilities to a new bank, but rather has occurred in the context of the ongoing litigation between the parties,” Naidoo said. “No other bank has agreed to offer them alternative banking services.”

The Guptas wanted the bank to suspend closing their accounts until December 7, when their main application was meant to be heard.

Bank of Baroda, the last resort for a group of Gupta-owned firms to stay afloat, told the North Gauteng High Court this month that it wanted to cut ties with the controversial family’s group of companies, as it feared reputational damage from conducting continued business with the firms.

Twenty Gupta-owned companies sought an urgent interdict to prevent the Indian-based bank from closing their bank accounts.

The court application was a last-ditch attempt by the companies to stay in business, after four of South Africa’s biggest banks – Absa, Nedbank, Standard Bank and First National Bank – closed their Gupta-related accounts amid allegations of state capture.

The Bank of China also closed its Gupta accounts just three weeks after one of the companies, VR Laser, had opened an account with it.