Nedbank ends talks with Transnet over Gupta deals

Nedbank has ended a mediation process with South Africa’s port and freight rail operator, Transnet, to resolve a dispute over contested interest-rate swap transactions.

The lender did not advise the rail operator on the transactions in question, which took place in December 2015 and March 2016, based on the advice of Regiments Capital, Nedbank said in a statement Tuesday. 

Transnet appointed Regiments as an adviser, effectively making the transactions “commercially sound”, and the bank’s margin was reasonable for the risks assumed, Nedbank said. 

Regiments was linked to the Gupta family, whose members are alleged to have leveraged their relationship with former President Jacob Zuma to flout procurement processes and win deals with state-owned companies. 

“Nedbank was not and could not have been aware of the apparent collusive relationships that the Regiments group had forged with senior officials at Transnet or the links that the Regiments group apparently had with the Guptas,” it said.

The transactions were found to have been potentially corrupt by a commission of inquiry into so-called state capture, which was the undue influence over government officials and entities during Zuma’s tenure. He has denied wrongdoing. 

The board and management of Nedbank have said they are satisfied that its internal governance procedures were followed regarding the transactions and that there is no evidence of dishonesty, corruption, or collusion by its staff.

Nedbank entered the mediation talks to “avoid potentially drawn-out and costly litigation” and will “strongly defend itself in any litigation proceedings that may follow,” it said. Transnet didn’t immediately respond to queries for comment. 

Nedbank shares were up as much as 0.9% in Johannesburg before paring gains to 0.2% by 3:26 p.m.