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Banks in catch-22 over Guptas

The SA Reserve Bank has advised that banking- related complaints by clients should be directed to the National Consmer Commission or the Banking Ombudsman.

The Reserve Bank was responding to Sowetan’s questions about an approprite forum to resolve disputes between commercial banks and their clients.

“The Reserve Bank is a prudential regulator and supervises the prudential requirements of commercial banks,” Reserve Bank chief of staff Bulelwa Boqwana said last night.

“Market misconduct and consumer disputes can be refrrred to National Consumer Commission or the Bankin Ombudsman,” she said.

Strangely, the Government accepted the Guptas request to intervene on their behalf, thereby by-passing the relevant institutions.

Boqwana’s comments came after cabinet, in an unprecedented move, tasked three ministers to talk to the country’s major banks for cutting ties with Oakbay Resources and Energy, the company belonging to the Gupta family, Zuma’s friends.

During a post-cabinet briefing, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said the ministers of finance (Parvin Gordhan), mineral resources (Mosebenzi Zwane) and labour (Mildred Oliphant) would open a “constructive engagement” with the banks over the closing of the accounts of “a company”.

Zwane is understood to be very close to the Gupta family.

Radebe said “whilst cabinet appreciates the terms and conditions of the banks, the acts may deter future potential investors who may want to do business in South Africa”.

Pressed for details as to whether cabinet had acted in a similar manner for any other private companies, or whether companies could approach government to act on their behalf in similar situations, Radebe would only say that government and private companies often interacted, during visits and in presidential working groups.

The cabinet move came as it emerged that more people have been to Gwede Mantashe’s office on the Guptas’ influence, but the ANC secretary-general refused to reveal names.

Former CEO of the Government Information and Communications Systems Themba Maseko recently told the Sunday Times that Zuma called him in 2010 to meet the Gupta brothers at their Saxonwold, Johannesburg, home and asked him to “help” them.

Maseko told Mantashe the Guptas were trying to force him to take a share of the GCIS’s large advertising slice to their media outlets.

Maseko confirmed meeting Mantashe. “I have met him on the matter, the details of which he only can talk about.”

Mantashe said: “The worst thing that can happen is to report to you before the structures of the ANC.”

Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas – who recently revealed that the Guptas wanted to offer him a job – yesterday warned in the SA Communist Party’s newsletter, Umsebenzi Online, of the dangers of state capture, including on the ANC itself.

He poured cold water on Gupta media outlets reporting that he and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan were inserted into Treasury to protect “white monopoly capital”.