Gupta company fails to prevent Bank of Baroda from closing

Bank of Baroda’s South African division was thrust into the spotlight two years ago when it agreed to take on the Guptas after South Africa’s major banks turned their back on the family’s businesses

Judge Ntendeya Mavundla ruled in the High Court in Pretoria yesterday that the Indian state-owned global Bank of Baroda could not be forced to keep its doors open in South Africa to serve 20 Gupta-linked companies.

The scandal-hit Gupta family has been dealt another blow after a court bid to keep an Indian bank in South Africa failed.

Judge Ntendeya Mavundla read only one paragraph of the order on Monday morning in the High Court in Pretoria to say the application has been dismissed with costs.

"In view of the bank's strategic plan for rationalisation of the branches in worldwide markets, the management of the bank has chose to cease the banking operations in South Africa territory", the bank said last month in a statement.

Last month, Bank of Baroda notified the Gupta-linked companies that it would close its South African operations at the end of March following Nedbank's notice terminating their relationship.

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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.

With the last bank door slammed shut on the Gupta family's crumbling business empire in South Africa, more of their companies are expected to go into business rescue.

South Africa's major banks turned their backs on the businesses two years ago, saying they brought with them too much risk to their reputation. He said the Bank of India, which is the majority shareholder of the Bank of Baroda, took a decision to withdraw from countries where little business is conducted.

He likened the application by the Gupta companies to a failing marriage where one party refuses a divorce due to their own interests.

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