South African finance minister to face fraud charges

SA's Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan

South African prosecutors on Tuesday ordered Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to appear in court on Nov. 2 over allegations he broke public finance rules by granting a colleague early retirement, news that sent the rand and share prices reeling.

Reuters reportedthat the currency dropped as much as 3.4 per cent against the dollar on the latest legal problems for the finance minister who says he has been the victim of a politically motivated campaign over the last few months.

Prosecutor Shaun Abrahams said Gordhan, in his previous role as head of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), had cost the tax agency around 1.1 million rand ($79,000) by approving early-retirement for tax agency deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay and re-hiring him as a consultant.

Gordhan is still being investigated for his role in setting up a surveillance unit at the tax department a decade ago which is suspected of spying on politicians including President Jacob Zuma, Abrahams confirmed.

An elite police unit known as the Hawks first questioned Gordhan about that in February in an investigation that some analysts said was the result of political pressure from a faction allied to Zuma.