Why did it take (G)ABSA 15 months to close Gupta accounts?

9 months ago written by

Let’s get it out in the open – we don’t like bankers, and we despise ABSA (better known as GAPSA for ‘gapsing’ your money in over-costly bank charges.

This is why we ask as hard as opposition party the Democratic Alliance whey it took the old farts at ABSA 15 months to close a couple of bank accounts belonging to Jacob Zuma’s rich old buddies – the Guptas.

David Maynier, the DA’s Shadow Minister of Finance, wrote earlier to day to Maria Ramos, Chief Executive of Barclays Africa Group Limited, requesting a reasonable explanation for why it took Absa Bank Limited a full 312 working days (excluding weekends) to close the Guptas’ bank accounts in South Africa.

Maynier quotes an affidavit submitted by Yasmin Masithela on behalf of Absa, in a court case in whiich the Minister of Finance takes on Oakbay Investments (Pty) Ltd. The case is currently being heard by the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division. It reveals that it took GAPSA:

  • 13 months (that is a full 272 working days) from the time the decision was taken to terminate the banker-client relationship with the Guptas’ (18 November 2014) to the notice of termination of the banker-client relationship with the Guptas’ (18 December 2015); and
  • 15 months (that is a full 312 working days) from the time the decision was taken to terminate the banker-client relationship with the Guptas’ (18 November 2014) to the termination of the banker-client relationship with the Guptas’ (16 February 2016).

The affidavit provides a detailed explanation of why the Guptas’ bank accounts were closed, as well as a detailed explanation of the process followed in closing the Guptas’ bank accounts, but does not provide any explanation as to why it took so long to close the Guptas’ bank accounts.

What the delay in closing the Guptas’ bank accounts suggests is that Absa may have failed to comply with processes, procedures and controls to manage money laundering and terrorist financing risks, including its obligations in respect of “Politically Exposed Persons”, in terms of the Banks Act (No. 94 of 1990) and the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (No. 38 of 2001).

“In the end, the real question, in the controversy surrounding the closure of the Guptas’ bank accounts, is not why the Guptas’ bank accounts were closed, but why it took so long for the Guptas’ bank accounts to be closed, by inter alia Absa,” says Maynier.

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