Standard Bank denies opening accounts for Gupta businesses
Standard Bank has denied that it opened accounts for the use of business rescue practitioners running Gupta-owned companies‚ saying the employee who opened the account did not have permission to conclude any agreement.
On Monday‚ business rescue practitioner Louis Klopper confirmed to TimesLive that he had communicated to creditors of the seven Gupta companies that Standard Bank had agreed to open an account.
Klopper was appointed to oversee the Gupta mining companies and property investment entities after the directors applied for voluntary business rescue.
After initially declining to comment‚ citing confidentiality‚ Standard Bank issued a short statement.
“Standard Bank South Africa elected in April 2016 to terminate all dealings with the Gupta family and all entities controlled by it with effect from June 2016. This decision still stands and has not been reviewed‚” the statement read.
“Standard Bank has not opened and will not open accounts with these companies. Any impression created to the contrary was created by an employee [who] was acting out of mandate.”
“Communication between the employee and the Business Rescue Practitioner was not authorised and did not follow the internal processes of the bank. Disciplinary procedures are currently underway.” Klopper confirmed that Standard Bank had agreed to open a new account‚ with strict conditions limiting access only to Klopper and his partner practitioner‚ Kurt Knoop.
Klopper on Monday said this had been a crucial stumbling block in getting the Gupta companies‚ particularly the four mines owned by the family‚ back up and running.
On February 16 the directors of Gupta-owned Tegeta filed for business rescue‚ placing Optimum‚ Koornfontein and Brakfontein coal mines in Mpumalanga as well as Shiva Uranium in NorthWest under Klopper’s control. Property investment companies Confident Concepts and Islandsite Investments 180 were also placed under business rescue.
The mines employ roughly 3 000 people‚ most of whom went on strike when salaries were not paid on February 25. The permanent staff‚ around 1 500 people‚ were paid last week.