South African Finance Minister to appear in court

South Africa’s Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, has received a summon to appear in court on charges of fraud.

This relates to allegations of misconduct when he was in charge of the country’s tax collection service a decade ago.

Mr Gordhan has said the allegations are wholly unfounded and are politically motivated.

The summon requires him to appear in court on November 2, which is after his budget policy statement due later this month.

The fraud charges relate to alleged severance payments made to two senior executives at the South African Revenue Service (SARS), when it was under Mr Gordhan’s leadership 10 years ago.

Prosecutor Shaun Abrahams said that Mr Gordhan was being investigated for his role in setting up a surveillance unit at the tax department around the same time.

Mr Gordhan has previously described that allegation as political mischief and has accused the special police unit conducting the investigation, known as the Hawks, of trying to intimidate him.

Mr Abrahams denied there had been any political interference in the matter.

Financial Market
Report has it that Mr Gordhan’s efforts to rein in government spending have won him respect in the financial markets.

News of his summon rattled the markets and the South African rand fell more than 3%.

Mr Gordhan was appointed in December last year, following a turbulent period in which the nation had three finance ministers in a week.

He replaced the little-known David van Rooyen who was only in the position for a few days.

President Jacob Zuma had sacked the previous finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, a widely-criticised move that sent the rand to record lows and caused the stock market to tumble.

Mr Gordhan had previously served as South Africa’s finance minister from 2009 until 2014.

Analysts believe that President Jacob Zuma would likely replace him.