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The Gupta Brothers – unraveling the controversial empire that cost SA millions



Gupta brothers

The Gupta brothers have emerged as pivotal players in the centre of South Africa’s corruption storm. Energy News reports that following an extensive inquiry last year, their intricate ties with former President Zuma were identified as the linchpin of a grand scheme that inflicted significant financial losses, estimated to be billions of dollars, upon the nation.

Recently, the United Arab Emirates declined a formal extradition request from South Africa for the two Indian-born brothers accused of systematically plundering state resources. This refusal presents a setback in the pursuit of justice and accountability.

Let’s delve into some essential details:

  • Who are the Guptas? The trio consists of Ajay, Atul, and Rajesh (“Tony”) Gupta, originally from the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Arriving in South Africa in 1993, just as the white-minority apartheid rule was crumbling and a year before Nelson Mandela won the country’s first democratic elections, the Guptas transitioned from small-scale business people in India to build a sprawling empire spanning computers, mining, media, technology, and engineering. Their business ventures flourished as South Africa opened up to foreign investment.
  • Close association with Zuma: Even before Zuma assumed the presidency in 2009, the Guptas fostered intimate ties with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, focusing mainly on Zuma. Their relationship extended beyond Zuma himself and reportedly influenced high-level decisions. Zuma’s son, Duduzane, became a director of the Gupta-owned Sahara Computers and was involved in several other Gupta enterprises. Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas revealed in March 2015 that the Guptas had offered him the position of finance minister, contingent upon obeying their instructions and allegedly offering him a staggering sum of 600 million rand.

Also read: Gupta Family’s Mansion in Constantia Finally Sold

  • Gupta businesses under scrutiny: The Guptas’ empire repeatedly faced allegations of securing favourable deals with South Africa’s major state-owned companies. In October 2016, South Africa’s ethics watchdog, the Public Protector, published a damning report exposing how a Gupta-linked business received a massive coal order from the state-owned electricity utility Eskom, well above market prices. This report prompted a judicial inquiry that spanned four years, culminating in a series of extensive reports in 2022. The examination unequivocally stated that Zuma facilitated the Guptas’ access to state-owned enterprises, enabling them to exploit the resources and assets of the South African people.
  • Flight to Dubai: As anti-corruption efforts gained momentum, the Gupta brothers fled South Africa and sought refuge in Dubai in 2018. However, in June 2021, South Africa and the UAE reached an extradition treaty, marking a significant development in the pursuit of justice. Subsequently, South Africa filed an Interpol “red notice” for Atul and Rajesh Gupta, an international request for their arrest pending extradition. In June 2022, the brothers were apprehended in Dubai. Nevertheless, a Dubai court has rejected South Africa’s extradition request, complicating the legal proceedings. While Ajay Gupta has not been indicted in this case, he faces another investigation involving corruption and embezzlement.

The Gupta brothers’ alleged activities have left a lasting impact on South Africa, with estimated losses amounting to as much as 50 billion rand. As the legal process unfolds, the quest for accountability continues, hoping to bring those responsible to justice.

Also read:

From Daring Escape to Court Drama: The Gripping Story of Thabo Bester’s Extradition and Arrest


Picture: Twitter / AdvoBarryRoux

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