Standard Bank denies Gupta business rescue links

Standard Bank has denied that it has opened a bank account associated with the Gupta family.

It was reported earlier on Tuesday that the top-4 bank had agreed to open bank accounts for business rescue practitioners controlling seven Gupta companies.

However, Standard Banks spokesperson Ross Lindstrom has said the bank terminated all dealings with the Gupta family and all entities controlled by it with effect from June 2016, and that that decision still stood.

Earlier, business rescue practitioner Louis 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 said this had been a crucial stumbling block to getting the Gupta companies‚ particularly the four mines owned by the family‚ back up and running.

However, in an e-mail to Business Day, Linstrom said on behalf of the bank: “Standard Bank of SA has not opened and will not open accounts with these companies. Any impression created to the contrary was created by an employee that was acting out of mandate.

“Communication between the employee and [Klopper] was not authorised and did not follow the internal processes of the bank. Disciplinary procedures are currently under way.”

The Gupta family has had to make do with facilities at the Bank of Baroda — a relationship that has 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.

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‚ about 1 500 people‚ were paid last week.

By Kyle Cowan for Business Day

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