The controversial Gupta family in South Africa today secured a temporary reprieve from a high court which directed the Bank of Baroda from closing their accounts. A local branch of the Bank of Baroda had issued notice to the Guptas, a wealthy Indian immigrant family with ties to South African President Jacob Zuma, that it would shut down the accounts of all their companies by the end of September. Pretoria High Court Judge TatiMakgoka granted a temporary reprieve to the Guptas pending a final application which must be launched in 15 days. The interdict prohibits the bank from deactivating or closing the banking accounts of the businesses owned by the Guptas, or from terminating the banker-customer relationship. The Bank of Baroda is the last bank which has ties with Gupta-linked companies, after all major South African banks and the Bank of China severed ties with them over the past few months, citing reputational risk. The three Gupta brothers -- Ajay, Atul and Tony -- came to South Africa from India two decades ago and have amassed huge interests in a wide range of sectors, including mining and media. They have been accused of being involved in state capture through their close association with the President, a charge denied by both -- the Guptas and Zuma. Last month the Guptas sold off some of their mining interests as well as their TV channel ANN7 and newspaper 'The New Age'. Lawyers for the Guptas had argued that the closure of the accounts would leave them unable to pay the salaries of 4,500 employees. The Bank of Baroda had initially served notice to the Guptas in March this year that their accounts would be shut down by the end of August but then extended it for a month. The Bank of Baroda's South African chief executive Manoj Kumar Jha said in answering papers in the matter that the bank had earlier reported 45 "suspicious transactions" worth about USD 300 million to the South African Financial Intelligence Centre between September 2016 and July 2017.
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