Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on Friday issued a two line comment on the High Court dismissal of former minister Pravin Gordhan’s application involving the Gupta-linked Oakbay company while the Banking Association of SA welcomed the judgment as an reinforcement of the sanctity of client-bank relationships.
“The Minister of Finance accepts and respects today’s High Court judgment on Oakbay and will not appeal it. The Minister will abide by the court judgment‚” the statement from Gigaba’s office read.
Earlier on Friday‚ the High Court in Pretoria has dismissed Gordhan’s application for a declaratory order on whether he could interfere in the relationship between banks and their clients‚ calling the application “unnecessary“.
Gordhan had approached the court in 2016 for a declaratory order stating that he could not intervene‚ after being pressured to do so by the Cabinet and the Gupta-linked Oakbay.
A full bench of the court said on Friday it was the duty of the minister‚ as a member of the national executive‚ to obey‚ respect and uphold the law.
“It is not appropriate for a member of the national executive to draw the judiciary into the exercise of his executive functions as evinced in this application‚” the court ruled. “To grant the minister the declaratory relief would allow the judiciary to stray into the exercise of executive functions where the circumstances do not warrant its involvement.”
The court said it held a strong view that the application was unnecessary in the circumstances of the case. There was no statute that empowered a member of the national executive to intervene in a private bank-client dispute. The constitution also did not confer such power‚ it said.
In its reaction‚ the Banking Association of SA (Basa) said on Friday: “The judgment‚ in our view‚ confirms the sanctity of client-bank relationships and confirms there should be no interference in that‚ political or otherwise“.
“We are also of the view that we have a proactive and efficient bank regulator and a Financial Intelligence Centre office that is diligent in overseeing efforts to combat financial crime‚” Basa said. These bodies‚ together with appropriate legislation and regulations‚ were very capable in overseeing the conduct of banks in relation to their clients‚ without interference‚ the association said.