amaBhungane and Scorpio #GuptaLeaks: The ‘Gift’ that keeps on giving
- amaBhungane & Scorpio
- 05 Jun 2017 01:20 (South Africa)
The Guptas dished out personal and political largesse to the sons of Free State Premier Ace Magashule. In turn, one son opened doors to Magashule’s office, where staff appeared to do the Guptas’ bidding. In much the same way that Duduzane Zuma was apparently groomed, the #GuptaLeaks suggest that Magashule’s sons were similarly primed to become Gupta intermediaries. By AMABHUNGANE and SCORPIO.
Magashule’s staff officially invited a senior Indian politician to South Africa on a Gupta associate’s request. His son Tshepiso “Gift” Magashule then forwarded the official correspondence to Tony Gupta.
The revelations are contained in the #GuptaLeaks, a trove of data leaked from the heart of the Guptas’ business network.
The leaks offer details on what appears to be the Guptas’ modus operandi for locking-in political loyalties.
At an Indian hotel in 2012, an employee briefing his colleagues by e-mail on the imminent arrival of Rajesh “Tony” Gupta and a Free State entourage described the Gupta brothers as being “known for their billionaire lifestyles and open-door access to the highest levels of government, including the
Accompanying the group to India was future mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane. At the time he was Free State MEC for agriculture.
Notes and e-mails indicate that Magashule’s son Tshepiso started working for the Guptas as a consultant in November 2010, the year after Duduzane was brought into the Gupta fold.
Tshepiso appears not to have made it to the same level as the young Zuma. The #GuptaLeaks show how Duduzane, a director in several Gupta companies, was raking in R300,000 a month by March 2015, while Tshepiso, a director in only one Gupta company, was getting R90,000 a month.
In earlier days the two were treated more evenly. The #GuptaLeaks provide details of an extravagant Gupta family holiday in December 2011.
Tshepiso and Duduzane joined the Gupta brothers Ajay, Rajesh, Atul and their families on a three-week holiday to New York City and Venice, Italy.
A lengthy e-mail exchange between an Indian-based company, JV Travels and Ashu Chawla, a senior Gupta employee, detailed the group’s itinerary as well as a list of who was to fly first class and who would go business class. The young Zuma and Magashule both got business class.
Chawla signed off on the flight schedules and airfares: the 11 first class seats cost roughly R700,000 and the eight business class seats around R407,000.
The group flew to New York from Delhi in India on December 3, 2011. They spent about a week in the Big Apple before heading east again to Venice in Italy for a few days before returning to Delhi on December 20.
The #GuptaLeaks shows Tshepiso has called in
The e-mail trail shows Tshepiso received the e-mail from a member of the Free State legislature. The subject was: “As discussed.”
The legislator wrote: “Good morning, Attached please receive a list of FS ANC party agents in need of airtime, they all use MTN. It will be appreciated if air time amounting to R120 per person could be loaded today, 06 May 2014. Hoping for your positive response.”
The attachment contained the names and cellphone numbers of 362 people – apparently all Free State ANC members.
However, for every
In November 2014, Gupta associate Ashok Narayan requested that Tshepiso print a document entitled “a drafted invitation”.
Narayan was a key figure in what amaBhungane previously reported appeared to be a money laundering scheme connected to the Guptas. He did not respond to requests for comment at the time.
Now Narayan told Tshepiso that he needed the document printed “on the official letterhead of the Office of the Premier”. The attached invitation was to Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra, Mumbai.
“Ask them to fax and e-mail to the numbers provided in the letter once the Premier has signed. Please mail me a copy as well,” Narayan wrote.
Apparently heeding Narayan’s request, Tshepiso once again sent it to his father’s chief of staff, who responded: “Hi T, Please see the attached. I have the Chief Ministers e-mail address and can send it on directly should you wish me to. It may look better coming from an official premier e-mail address. Let me know.”
On the same
It was previously reported that Magashule did something similar just before the three-day Sun City wedding of a Gupta daughter on April 30, 2013, in an apparent attempt to tick the box of the plane full of wedding guests being an official flight.
The #GuptaLeaks confirm the invite from Magashule, on official letterhead, to Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the Chief Minister of Haryana state. They also confirm that the invite was linked to the Guptas, as it was forwarded to senior Gupta employee Ashok Narayan.
The invitation said: “I would like to cordially invite you to visit us in the Free State Province … to explore potential areas of mutual co-operation between our countries with specific emphasis on
Other e-mails suggest Tshepiso received support from the Guptas, including a loan of R80,000.
The hotel sent an AED10,240 (roughly R40,000 at the time) bill for the Magashule brothers’ stay directly to the Guptas’ Sahara Computers.
Despite such benefits, the Magashule brothers seem to have been treated as mid-level assets by the Guptas.
At the time, Chawla instructed:
“All these guest [sic] entire bills we have to pay so please arrange payments for all except Gift Magashule and
Oberoi staff received similar instructions in October 2012 before Tony Gupta, Narayan and
The group was booked into Oberoi Hotels throughout their stay. Shortly before their arrival, a hotel manager sent an e-mail to brief staff on the guests.
The manager said: “Dear all, this is in regards to the upcoming Sahara group at your respective hotels…
“Please note this is a VVIP group and Mr. Rajesh Gupta regularly stays at the Presidential Suite of the Taj in New Delhi.”
And: “All mini bars to be locked for the entire group excepting
At the time,
In 2013, amaBhungane first
Chawla took care of bills, which were scanned directly to him by the Oberoi hotel group.
Responses … and not
Zwane did not respond to queries from amaBhungane.
Magashule’s spokesperson issued a statement saying he “has noted the so-called - communications…
“The Free State provincial government has noted that the relevant authorities, including the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations (Hawks), have embarked on investigations which are intended to test the validity and authenticity of such e-mails. Until such investigations are concluded, the premier and the Free State provincial government shall not respond to
Gupta lawyer Gert van der Merwe also responded in general terms, saying in a phone call that it would be "inappropriate" to comment on claims about his clients. “I will be more than just a cowboy to respond because I have no documents or context or instructions. It is inappropriate."
Van der Merwe said: “One finds oneself in an unfortunate position, to answer on the record on the documents when people can’t say where they got the documents. It is
He added that he had advised his clients to obtain the leaked emails and that they had on Saturday “mounted an effort to get hold of them.” DM
Photo: Free State Premier Ace Magashule at the ANC's 53rd conference in Mangaung, 17 December 2012. (Photo Greg Marinovich)
- Scorpio is the Daily Maverick’s new investigative unit. If you'd like to support its work, click here.
- The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism is an independent non-profit. Be an amaB supporter to help it do more. Sign up for its newsletter to get more.
Reader notice: Our comments service provider, Civil Comments, has stopped operating and as a result, we will be searching for another platform for our readers. We aim to have this done with the launch of our new site in early 2018 and apologise for the inconvenience.