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South Africa's prosecuting authority head denies dropping charges against finance minister

South Africa

The Director of South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority has dismissed reports suggesting he has dropped fraud charges against the country’s Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan after a review.

The City Press newspaper in an article on Sunday said it had learned of “informal discussions” underway “between National Director of Pulic Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams, his close allies in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) as well as lawyers of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his two co-accused to drop the charges against them”.

A draft letter was compiled by Abrahams’ office, communicating his intention to drop the charges, the paper further reported adding that the said letter was to be sent to the lawyers of Gordhan and his former SA Revenue Service deputies, Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay before they appear in court on Wednesday.

But in an interview with the Reuters news agency, Shaun Abrahams dismissed the newspaper report.

“They are talking rubbish. I am applying my mind to it and I hope to make a decision soon,” Abrahams told Reuters.

Gordhan is accused of fraudulently approving the early retirement of a deputy tax commissioner and re-hiring him as a consultant when he served as head of the revenue service.

The move is said to have cost the tax agency 1.1 million rand, approximately 80,000 dollars. But Gordhan has denied any wrongdoing saying the case against him is politically motivated. A claim state prosecutors have rejected.

The two co-accused, Magashula and Pillay who worked under Gordhan between 1999 and 2009 when he headed the SA Revenue Service have asked the state to review the charges. Gordhan has refused to ask for a review.

NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku however says should the “national director decided to review on the basis of their (the co-accused) representations and say I am not proceeding with prosecution, automatically for all three it applies”.

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