Standard Bank throws lifeline to Gupta companies
Standard Bank has agreed to open bank accounts for business rescue practitioners who control seven Gupta companies.
Standard Bank was among the top four banks‚ including Absa‚ Nedbank and FNB‚ which shut down the Gupta family accounts‚ and accounts for persons linked to the family‚ in 2016 over mounting concerns over money laundering allegations.
The family has had to make do with facilities from the Bank of Baroda‚ a relationship that has also deteriorated since the bank started to come under pressure from the Reserve Bank over the large number of suspicious transactions the Gupta family were processing.
Business rescue practitioner Louis Klopper on Tuesday 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 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 the North West 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.
Standard Bank declined to comment‚ citing client confidentiality.