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Emirates: Finance minister Gordhan charged with fraud

(AGI) - Cape Town, Oct 11 - South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has b...

Emirates: Finance minister Gordhan charged with fraud
Pravin Gordhan (afp) 

(AGI) - Cape Town, Oct 11 - South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has been summoned to appear in court on fraud charges, the country's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced today. Gordhan is being investigated by the South Arican police for overseeing the establishment of an investigative unit when he led the South African Revenue Service (Sars) between 1999 and 2009. The police is questioning whether the undercover investigation unit performed illegal activities. The summons comes after Gordhan was ordered to report to the country's elite police division, the Hawks, in August to face possible corruption charges. Gordhan refused to report to the Hawks, saying the police investigation against him is nothing but political mischief and will be resolved soon. A docket was subsequently handed to the NPA soon thereafter. The charge of fraud relates to the payout made by Sars to former deputy Sars commissioner Ivan Pillay when he took early retirement. The Hawks had found that Gordhan had acted corruptly by granting early retirement to Pillay. Speaking at a press briefing, NPA boss Shaun Abrahams denied any mischief in the handling of the case, saying the investigative unit was set up in a "very strange manner" and had not been cleared by the national intelligence services. Gordhan had previously stated that the early retirement of Pillay had been "lawful", "not unusual" and "entirely above board". Responding to the news of the summons, Gordhan questioned why the Hawks have issued a summons just 15 days before he delivers his medium-term budget. "What is it about this country, and some in this country (politicians and those in the law), who choose these times to do these things?" asked Gordhan. He expected that he would have to appear in court on November 2. South Africa's currency, the rand, fell by as much as by 3% within minutes after the news that Gordhan has been served a formal summons. The summons was also served on former Sars commissioner Oupa Magashula and former deputy Sars Commissioner Ivan Pillay. Political insiders and economists see the campaign against Gordhan as a political play by South African President Jacob Zuma and his supporters to get the Gordhan out of Treasury so as to completely capture state finances. (AGI) .