Pretoria – Gupta-owned companies may seek damages against the Bank of Baroda as a result of its departure from the country, the North Gauteng High Court ruled on Monday as it rejected the interdict against the bank’s exit from South Africa.
In his ruling, Judge Ntendeya Mavundla said the bank could seek remedy in the form of a “damages claim” against Bank of Baroda “to prove that they have suffered damages as the results of the respondent’s action to close their operations in South Africa”.
“The decision by the respondent to exit [the] South African banking sector, cannot, in my view be interfered with by the courts,” he said.
He stated that they have “every right to terminate any business contract, including that of the applicants” – adding that the court could “not compel” the bank to “keep the doors of its business open for whatever duration”.
The India-based bank has no infrastructure in the country and relies on facilities provided by Nedbank.
Nedbank has since terminated its relationship with the Bank of Baroda.
Mvundla said the bank could therefore not be expected to service the Gupta-linked companies without infrastructure provided by Nedbank.
He further ruled that the court could not be expected to compel the Bank of Baroda to go to Nedbank to demand that they reinstall their services.
The Gupta’s banking woes started in 2017 when all four of the country’s major banks declined to do business with the controversial family’s companies.
Ninenteen Gupta-owned companies, including Optimum Coal Mine, Sahara Computers, Shiva Uranium and Oakbay Investment had lodged an application in February, seeking to interdict the Bank of Baroda from leaving South Africa.
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