FIRST National Bank has closed the accounts of a company owned by the Gupta family following a scandal over the family’s relationship with President Jacob Zuma.
Oakbay Investment said in a statement on Wednesday that First National Bank (FNB), owned by FirstRand, South Africa‘s biggest bank, had closed its accounts without giving a reason.
FirstRand follows three other companies – KPMG, Barclays Africa and Sasfin – that have severed ties with a company owned by the Guptas due to concerns about their relationship with Zuma.
“We find the timing of FNB’s decision staggering given Oakbay’s accounts are in excellent financial health and we have been a loyal and profitable customer for many years,” Oakbay said.
Allegations of the Gupta family meddling in politics burst into the open last month when deputy finance Minister suggested that they may have had a hand in Zuma sacking his finance minister Nhlanhla Nene.
FNB told Oakbay it did not need its business anymore on Friday, a source familiar with the matter said, a day after a top court ruled that Zuma breached the constitution for ignoring an order to repay the state a portion of $16 million spent on his private home.
Nainesh Desai, head of risk at FNB, declined to comment, citing client confidentiality agreements.
Zuma has denied numerous allegations of the Guptas wielding undue influence. The Guptas have also routinely dismissed reports of their alleged influence, saying they are pawns in a political plot to get Zuma out of office.
The three Gupta brothers moved to South Africa from India at the end of apartheid in the early 1990s and went on to build a business empire that stretches from technology to the media to mining.
They have also forged a close personal relationship with Zuma, whose son, Duduzane, sits on the board of at least six Gupta-owned companies, according to company registration papers.
Zuma survived an impeachment motion by the opposition on Tuesday thanks to his African National Congress party’s majority in parliament. –Reuters