Bank of Baroda chief hits back over Gupta scandal
In an exclusive interview, Baroda chief executive PS Jayakumar admits failings in the bank’s South African operations, but denies institutional wrongdoing.
By Rashmi Kumar
Bank of Baroda became embroiled in a fraud in February when it emerged that the lender may have helped three South African businessmen of Indian origin to siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars.
But in an interview with Asiamoney, Baroda chief executive PS Jayakumar adamantly denies that the firm was involved in money laundering, and maintains that the bank’s withdrawal from South Africa is not connected to the scandal.
The problems stem from Bank of Baroda’s relationship with the three Gupta brothers – Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta – who relocated to South Africa from India in the early 1990s, and who are closely connected to South Africa’s recently ousted president, Jacob Zuma.
The bank has been blamed for allowing the family to move millions of dollars tied to disputed transactions into offshore accounts and facilitating inter-company loans lacking in paperwork and seemingly with no commercial purpose.
Westdawn, a Gupta family-controlled shell company, had an account with Bank of Baroda for many years. The allegations against the bank in the Indian and South African media are numerous; Jayakumar chooses to address three of them.