In 2016, a meeting took place between ANC officers and Standard Bank representatives at Luthuli House, following the announcement by Standard Bank that it would close Gupta-linked bank accounts. Present was ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte and chairman of the economic subcommittee Henoch Godongwana.
This was revealed by the Head of Compliance for Standard Bank, Ian Sinton, who testified on Monday to the State Settlement Inquiry Committee. This meeting, said Sinton, was an attempt to get the bank to stop its decision to close the accounts.
Led by lawyer Phillip Mokoena, Sinton was asked which internal processes were followed by the bank to take the decision to terminate the Gupta accounts, of which the Guptas were notified in April 2016. The bank had announced the Guptas two months in advance.
Sinton said the bank had been summoned to Luthuli House to reply to the ANC about why the bank had decided to terminate the accounts.
"We were prepared to explain our policies and procedures to closing accounts in general," said Sinton, adding that they had stressed that they would not discuss matters with customers about them.
During the meeting, Standard Bank was accused of suppressing black companies by being part of "white monopoly capital", which the bank vehemently denied.
An interministerial committee was established shortly after the meeting. It was chaired by Minister of Mineral Resources Mozebenzi Zwane, and his advisers were Minister of Labor Mildred Oliphant and Mzwanele Manyi (former spin doctor of the government changed media owner – he took the Gupta TV station ANN7 and the newspaper The New Age over store). The bank was asked to meet the committee.
In disgusting testimonies, Sinton said that the committee had bluntly stated that it had the power to influence the government to change laws regarding the processes that banks had to terminate bank accounts at their discretion.
"The meeting was an attempt by two cabinet ministers on behalf of the cabinet to convince us to withdraw our decision to close the accounts of Gupta-related entities," he told the committee.
Sinton said that the bank had a team that constantly followed the media on negative reports. If the bank marks suspicious transactions by its customers, it asks for an explanation of suspicious transactions and activities.
"The process we generally follow is that by means of external media or internal information we notice that a customer's behavior, which may give rise to a suspicion, is involved in something unlawful to the customer," said Sinton.
He explained that once sufficient convincing evidence was gathered, including monitoring transactions through certain algorithms, the bank could decide to terminate accounts.
"If it is not very convincing or perhaps ambiguous, we would ask for a statement from that customer and give the customer the chance to convince us that the invalid information is unjustified," he said.
A committee, said Sinton, then took the final decision.
Judge Raymond Zondo, who was in charge of investigating state prison, asked why Standard Bank would not consider asking the client for an explanation, irrespective of whether the evidence is convincing enough, "because a decision such as which clearly is a pretty serious decision for the customer ".
Sinton said that if a customer was convicted of a criminal offense, the bank does not consider it necessary to have a conversation with the customer. He also added that if the evidence suggests that the banking systems were used to commit other violations, a decision would be made.
Mokoena asked Sinton what the decision for Standard Bank was to close the accounts. Sinton said it was being urged by Absa Bank to terminate his bank accounts that had Gupta links.
"We would of course accept that Absa Bank is bound by the same laws as we do, so if they saw a good reason to end, we noticed that we ourselves had to carefully examine which legs we had and whether we were at risk. or more the beginning of gathering information, "said Sinton.
KPMG soon announced that it would terminate its contract, which also led to a red flag for Standard Bank.
Sinton said it was revealed that the then Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas was offered a ministerial function in exchange for benefits. The bank also saw this in a serious light, especially after it had been published on the National Treasury website, "as an official publication by the government," said Sinton.
Former ANC member of parliament Vytjie Mentor admitted that the Gupta & # 39; s had offered her a role in the cabinet "in exchange for favors" and also alarmed.
Sinton also quoted a 2016 City Press article when an executive from Oakbay "helped a president's wife buy a house" by obtaining a bond from the Bank of Baroda for a value of more than R3 million.
Reading: home of the First Lady, supported by Guptas
On Tuesday the committee will continue with representatives of Absa Bank. The committee starts at 11.30.