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Thu Sep 29 10:26:26 SAST 2016

Gupta spin doctors knew of Zwane’s bank inquiry before it was announced

Staff Writer | 22 September, 2016 10:13
Bell Pottinger on Thursday said it “did not seek to obtain this information‚ but was made aware of it”‚ and claimed the “source was not the Gupta Family” and it “has never met with or spoken to minister Zwane or any of his advisors”. File photo
Image by: Getty images

UK public relations firm Bell Pottinger has confirmed that it was “made aware of” recommendations that an inquiry be instituted into South Africa’s banks before it was announced by Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

Zwane announced earlier this month that Cabinet had decided to investigate the conduct of banks that had closed accounts belonging to Gupta family businesses and that it would also hold banking regulators to account for the decision.

Zwane’s statement was strongly denied by the Presidency. Demands that he be “disciplined” for his statement have since been made.

Fin24 reported that it could reveal that “Bell Pottinger‚ the Guptas’ UK-based spin doctors‚ was in possession of Zwane’s “findings…as early as July 15 when they tried to leak a copy of the document to the media.”

The web article went on to say: “The firm further recommended that Fin24 speak directly to Zwane and provided us contact details for the minister.”

Bell Pottinger on Thursday said it “did not seek to obtain this information‚ but was made aware of it”‚ and claimed the “source was not the Gupta Family” and it “has never met with or spoken to minister Zwane or any of his advisors”.

Explaining its approach to the media‚ the PR company said: “Given its relevance to the issue of Oakbay's closed accounts‚ the public interest and the ongoing media coverage of the story‚ Bell Pottinger contacted Fin24/News24 to put the information into the public domain.”

The statement also noted that: “Oakbay has reached out to a number of politicians on the issue of the banks' unilateral closure of their accounts‚ including (Finance Minister) Pravin Gordhan‚ and believes justice needs to be done.

“It is no secret that Bell Pottinger has advised Oakbay Investments on its corporate communications since March this year. Bell Pottinger abides by strict professional ethics.”

– TMG Digital/BDlive

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