FORMER Standard Bank general counsel Ian Sinton dropped a bombshell while testifying before the State Capture Inquiry yesterday.
Sinton told the inquiry, being held in Parktown in Joburg, that after the bank closed the Gupta family’s accounts, managers were called to Luthuli House to explain the decision.
“We received a request from our chief executive Sim Tshabalala. He asked us to attend a meeting at Luthuli House with the ANC to explain why we closed the accounts,” he said.
“Separately, we received a request from the interministerial committee of cabinet to account for closing these accounts.”
He said at the meeting, the ANC was represented by Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte and economic transformation committee chairman Enoch Godongwana.
Sinton said as a major bank, they thought it would be disrespectful not to attend a meeting with the governing party, although they viewed it as inappropriate.
Sinton said the meeting with the interministerial committee in Tshwane was chaired by former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane. He said Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant and former government communication and information systems head Mzwanele Manyi were also present.
“The meeting was an attempt by two ministers on behalf of Cabinet to persuade us to retract our decision to close the accounts of the Gupta entities,” said Sinton.
In 2016, Absa, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank closed the accounts of Gupta-owned businesses. Sinton said Oakbay, the holding company of a range of Gupta businesses, went on a media campaign to try and get the bank to reverse its decision.