Pravin Gordhan, South Africa Finance Minister may be charged this week for graft.
The City Press newspaper reported this on Sunday, citing senior sources in the police, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and the tax service.
Thirty witnesses had been lined up to testify against Gordhan and three former officials from the South African Revenue Service (SARS), the paper said.
Officials at the NPA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Police summoned Gordhan this week in connection with an investigation into a “rogue spy unit” set up in the revenue service when he headed the organisation, rattling South African markets and sending the rand down 5 percent.
The investigation first came to light in February and political pundits have said Gordhan is being undermined by a faction in the government and ruling African National Congress (ANC) allied to President Jacob Zuma.
The newspaper said Gordhan faced a graft charge for granting early retirement to Ivan Pillay, a former commissioner of the South African Revenue Service who is also under investigation.
Zuma said on Thursday he backed Gordhan but was powerless to stop a police investigation into him, signalling a prolonged tussle that could add to market volatility.
South Africa’s credit rating is set to be cut to junk status this year, according to a Reuters poll this week, with economists surveyed citing the heightened political risk around the Gordhan saga.
Gordhan commands huge respect in the markets and his departure would be a serious blow to Africa’s most industrialised country, teetering as it is on the brink of recession.
According to City Press, the witnesses lined up against Gordhan include ANC donor Jen-Chih “Robert” Huang, a former business partner of Jacob Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse, who had his assets frozen two years ago over a R541 million tax claim.
The case against Gordhan, former Sars commissioner Ivan Pillay, former Sars high-risk investigations unit (HRIU) head Johann van Loggerenberg and former Sars commissioner Oupa Magashula is now in the hands of National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams after the Hawks concluded its investigation on Thursday afternoon.
On Friday, the Hawks delivered the case docket to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) headquarters in Silverton, Pretoria, for Abrahams to handle personally.
Although NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku denied a decision to charge Gordhan and the others had been taken, City Press has learnt from four senior sources within the NPA, the Hawks and Sars, that they would “definitely” be criminally charged.