Fraud action against South Africa’s finance minister dropped

31 Oct 16

South Africa’s chief prosecutor has dropped fraud charges against the country’s finance minister Pravin Gordhan.


South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan. Credit: GCIS

South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan. Credit: GCIS


Shaun Abrahams, head of South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority, reportedly informed Gordhan that he had decided to withdraw a court summons issued earlier this month via his attorney today.

Gordhan, who had described the charges as baseless and “political mischief”, was due to appear in court this week in relation to allegations of misconduct while he headed South Africa’s tax agency a decade ago.

The news that the minister, seen as a reliable and trustworthy figure in a chaotic political environment, had been summoned rattled markets and pushed the rand down by 3.4%.

Many suspected the charges were politically motivated by president Jacob Zuma, who it is thought would like to oust Gordhan.

Zuma had denied this, but Abrahams nevertheless came under mounting pressure to drop the charges.

In his letter, he said he had “decided to overrule the decision” to prosecute Gordhan and withdraw the summons with “immediate effect”.

Charges against two other South African Revenue Service officials have also been dropped.

Abrahams had also been criticised for bringing the charges against Gordhan so close to the presentation of the mid-term budget on Wednesday last week.

In his speech to parliament, Gordhan slashed the country’s growth forecast by almost half to 0.5% this year, and warned that Africa’s most developed economy was at risk of slipping into a “low-growth trap”.

The country’s treasury also cut its predictions for next year from 1.7% to 1.3%, and for 2018 from 2.4% to 2%.

South Africa’s economy has been hit by the collapse in commodity prices and long-running corruption scandals surrounding the president. Perceived political risks are likely to play a part in this latest downgrade.

Gordhan stressed the need to end “political noise” and “do the right things to support investment and confidence” to support the recovery. 

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