EXCLUSIVE: Oakbay calls on Zuma and Cabinet ministers for help in leaked letter

08 April 2016 - 16:40 By TMG Digital

President Jacob Zuma as well as three Cabinet ministers have been contacted by the Oakbay company over the closure of its bank accounts.

Nazeem Howa and Atul Gupta. File photo.
Nazeem Howa and Atul Gupta. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images / City Press / Lucky Nxumalo

This follows reports of the company being abandoned by Absa and FNB banks and the withdrawal of its auditors‚ KPMG‚ and its stock exchange sponsor‚ Sasfin.

On Friday‚ Oakbay Resources and Energy announced in a statement to the Stock Exchange News Service that non-executive chairman Atul Gupta and chief executive officer Varun Gupta have resigned "with immediate effect".

President Zuma's son‚ Duduzane Zuma‚ has also quit as non-executive director of Shiva Uranium‚ a major subsidiary of the company.

Oakbay is at the centre of the “Guptagate” storm over the president’s close association with the Gupta family‚ who have been exposed for “interviewing” for positions in Zuma’s cabinet. Oakbay Investments is the holding company for several Gupta-related subsidiaries.

In a letter to staff‚ leaked to the media on Friday‚ Oakbay Investments CEO Nazeem Howa states: "It is with deep regret‚ that following a period of sustained political attack on the Gupta family and our businesses‚ and by extension‚ you our employees‚ we have come to the conclusion that it is time for the Gupta family to step down from all executive and non-executive positions. In doing this‚ the family hope to end the campaign against Oakbay and save all of our jobs."

He wrote: "The closure of our bank accounts has made it virtually impossible to continue to do business in South Africa.

"Without bank accounts we may find ourselves in a position where we are unable to pay you‚ our valued employees. We are doing everything in our power to ensure this does not happen. We find it totally unacceptable that you‚ our employees‚ and your families could potentially have to suffer as a result of the political campaign against us.

"To this end we have been in direct contact with the ministries of labour‚ finance‚ mineral resources and the Office of the President to express deep disappointment over the decisions of our banking partners and to make it very clear that livelihoods are at risk if we are unable to restore these important banking relationships.

"We are confident that through the family's decision to distance themselves from the business banking relationships will soon be restored‚ salaries will be paid and business will continue as normal."

Howa said Oakbay's current executive committee and the CEOs of each of the businesses would continue to oversee the day-to-day management and running of the business and all portfolio companies.

"We need to remain strong as a team during this difficult time. We have every confidence that normalcy will soon be restored."