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South African finance minister summoned over police probe

The rand reacted sharply late Tuesday as the news came out, jumping from 13.47 to 13.98 to the dollar

AFP/PTI  |  Johannesburg 

Pravin Gordhan (Photo: Twitter)
Pravin Gordhan (Photo: Twitter)

South Africa's finance minister has been summoned to appear before a special police investigative unit, a treasury spokeswoman told AFP today.

Pravin Gordhan was commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) from 1999 to 2009. In 2014, allegations surfaced of a "rogue spy unit" in the tax service during his tenure, allegedly spying on politicians, including the current President Jacob Zuma.

An investigation into the matter was reportedly opened in 2015 by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), known locally as the Hawks.

National Treasury spokeswoman Phumza Macanda confirmed to AFP in an email that Gordhan had been summoned in "correspondence from the Hawks yesterday."

"He's currently taking legal advice on the matter and reserving comment at this stage," she added.

Macanda did not confirm a date for the minister's appearance before police investigators, but local news website Daily Maverick reported it would be on Thursday.

The rand reacted sharply late Tuesday as the news came out, jumping from 13.47 to 13.98 to the dollar.

Investigators had sent Gordhan a list of 27 questions to answer regarding the allegations early this year. He reiterated that the unit's work was above board and if any members broke the law, it was without his knowledge.

As a widely respected finance minister from 2009 to 2014, he was later moved into the cooperative governance portfolio.

In December, Zuma shocked markets by firing two finance ministers within four days, and Gordhan was quickly recalled in a panicked attempt to limit the damage.

Zuma's tense relations with Gordhan, who is seen as trying to clean up corruption and wasteful expenditure in government, have worried investors.

First Published: Wed, August 24 2016. 01:32 IST