A day after the elite South Africa police unit ‘Hawks’ raided the offices of Bank of Baroda, the bank on Saturday said it has cooperated with the authorities in all investigations of matters relating to the Gupta family, including how the Guptas and their companies used their accounts at various banks in South Africa.
Police raided Bank of Baroda branches in Johannesburg and Durban and took documents showing bank transactions involving South African state firms as part of an investigation into state corruption under former president Jacob Zuma.
According to BoB, the action by the South African Police Directorate for priority crime investigation is no exception, as BoB fully cooperated with the Hawks in all respects. “Presently, we want to emphasise that this search and seizure operation is not for investigation on BoB. This requisition by the Hawks is in relation to the continuing ongoing investigation of the Gupta family,” BoB said in a statement.
The Guptas, a family of Indian-born businessmen, are at the centre of an influence-peddling scandal surrounding Zuma. Having initiated closure of all Gupta-related accounts in July 2017, Bank of Baroda ceased all banking operations in South Africa as of April 1, 2018. The bank now is in the process of winding down and exiting the South Africa market in close co-ordination with the South African Reserve Bank. “The exiting process from South Africa is in line with the bank’s international reorganisation plans,” BoB said.
“The documents which have been requested by the Hawks are account opening, account statements and supporting vouchers. These documents form part of the formal books and record of the bank,” BoB said. Many of these documents requisitioned by Hawks have been shared with the agency appointed by SARB as a part of their investigation and further some of these documents have been subpoenaed and been submitted to the investigating agencies, it said.
“As and when required for various audit and investigation purposes, the Bank has shared relevant documents and we have always cooperated making the documents available for inspections, audit etc,” BoB said. BoB said it will continue to cooperate with all investigations in which South Africa authorities seek the bank’s assistance. “We will continue to have physical presence in SA, notwithstanding closure of the banking operations, till regulatory investigations are concluded and we are informed by competent authorities that our physical presence is no longer required,” it said.