Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Industry | By Terrell Bush

Court rules it can't force Bank of Baroda to stay open

Court rules it can't force Bank of Baroda to stay open

In January, Nedbank informed the Bank of Baroda that it would terminate its relationship with the bank in three months.

The local Eyewitness News (EWN) service said that the High Court in Pretoria had dismissed the Gupta companies' application to prevent the Indian bank from closing its South African operations.

"The Bank of Baroda has notified the Office of the Registrar of Banks of its exit from South Africa".

Gupta brothers Atul and Ajay were supposed to testify before the parliamentary portfolio committee on public enterprises, which is investigating allegations of state capture at Eskom this week, but reportedly sent a lawyers' letter to the committee stating they were not in the country.

Judge Ntendeya Mavundla said the bank's right to trade or not trade superseded the rights the companies had. "I further conclude that the balance of convenience far outweighs that of the applicant's and tilts in favour of (BoB)", Mavundla said.

The High Court has ruled it simply can not force a company to keep its doors open against its will.

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In the North Gauteng High Court last month, the Bank of Baroda said the Gupta-owned companies couldn't force it to stay in South Africa.

The companies cited difficulties they would have with the closure of paying salaries to thousands of their employees in their businesses ranging from information technology to mining.

Nineteen Gupta-owned companies, including Optimum Coal Mine, Sahara Computers and Oakbay Investments, approached the High Court with an urgent application in February, seeking to interdict the bank from leaving South Africa.

The country's chief prosecutor last month declared Ajay Gupta a "fugitive from justice" after he failed to hand himself in to police, who are conducting an investigation on the family.

Indian tax inspectors last Tuesday raided premises of the Gupta family.

Gigaba also came under fire for initially declaring that Atul Gupta did not have South African citizenship either, but later withdrew this after the media published a copy of Atul's South African identity document.

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