By BO Staff Writer
Last year, news dominating the mainstream media was how banks had quickly closed the bank accounts of the Gupta family businesses for supposedly dodgey transactions worth R7 billion. Later in the year, the then Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, submitted an affidavit to the North Gauteng High Court asking for a declaratory order that he, as Minister of Finance, not be obliged to intervene in the closing of the bank accounts.
What Gordhan’s application was pinned on was 72 “suspicious” transactions between Gupta family members and businesses, outlined in a Finance Intelligence Centre (FIC) certificate which the High Court later struck off the roll.
While the nation has been forced to focus their attention on the supposedly corrupt family dealings of one family – the Guptas, the public’s eyes have been intentionally blindfolded on the extent of corruption by white corporates in the form of illicit financial flows (IFFs).
The Mail & Guardian reported that South Africa was losing nearly R147 billion a year to the illegal movement of money out of the country, last year.
It is reported that in the 2015/16 financial year, IFFs cost the country nearly R60 billion. It is also reported that the biggest culprit in this crude corruption is white owned multinational companies which use mechanisms like trade misinvoicing to lie about the value of commercial transactions to avoid tax and shift money across borders.
Why should you care? IFFs rob countries of much needed revenues for development. The unrecorded billions which get siphoned out of the country cannot be taxed and thus become unavailable for public usage, meaning less money in the public purse.
Last month the director of the FIC, Murray Michell, told parliament that about 9 million suspected transactions were reported to the centre in this financial year. The illegal transactions were valued at R58 billion! It appeared in Michell’s submission to parliament that the FIC, treasury and law enforcement agencies like the HAWKS had no capacity to deal with this mass corruption by white monopoly capital.
Michell was awarded a bonus of more than R4 million by Gordhan, seemingly for his role in besmirching the Guptas and protecting white capital. It was the same Michell who irregularly gave Gordhan the FIC certificate which was thrown out by court. Was Gordhan paying Michelle for favours done for white monopoly capital? This claim is given further credence by the fact that Michell got a performance bonus without a performance agreement, raising the question, on what basis was his bonus given?
Insiders have asked what is the criteria of choosing to make a big noise about the Gupta owned, Oakbay’s “suspicious” transactions when FIC reported 9 million such transactions in the past financial year. This points to selective prosecution.
Under the watch of our previous finance minister, Gordhan, 9 million suspicious transactions were reported to the FIC, but the minister chose to concern himself (bordering on obsessing) with merely 72 transactions by the Gupta family.
Could it be that the companies which were reportedly taking part in such illegal activities were the same companies our former fiance minister has shares in? The details of the transactions have not been made public yet, but since Gordhan has a reputation for protecting white monopoly capital (he has shares in most multinationals), could it be that he was inactive in curbing the scurge of IFFs because he stood to benefit directly from their illegal activities?