amaBhungane

Guptas drop millions on double wedding in Abu Dhabi

By amaBhungane 8 February 2019
Caption
Rajesh "Tony" Gupta, Atul Gupta (Supplied)

While the Guptas’ former mine workers go unpaid, the family – sitting safely in Dubai – is defiantly going ahead with another over-the-top wedding. By Tabelo Timse and Susan Comrie for amaBhungane


an amaBhungane investigation
The Guptas are to host yet another extravagant wedding – said to be costing the controversial family about R100-million – at the luxurious five-star Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi.

A copy of a nine-page wedding invitation obtained by amaBhungane describes a five-day event that will begin with a welcoming lunch on Tuesday, February 19 and ends with a wedding reception on Saturday, February 23.

The wedding is a double-feature, with Rajesh “Tony” Gupta’s daughter Shubhangi Singhala marrying Chetan Jain and Atul Gupta’s son Srikant Singhala tying the knot with Akhya Bansal.

This is the third publicly lavish wedding the family has funded.

The Gupta family shot to prominence in 2013 when the three brothers’ niece, Vega Gupta, got married at Sun City.

Although the wedding was intended as a display of the Gupta family’s wealth and powerful connections, it also exposed the underbelly of those relations when the family was given permission to land a plane full of guests at the Waterkloof air force base.

The #GuptaLeaks would later provide evidence of how R30-million from the provincial government-funded Estina dairy project in the Free State was laundered through a series of bank accounts in the UAE to pay for the wedding.

Eight people, including the bride’s brother Varun Gupta, were charged in relation to the Estina case last year but the charges were provisionally withdrawn by the National Prosecuting Authority in November.

The second lavish Gupta wedding was held in April 2016 at the Mardan Palace in Antalya, Turkey.

The three-day wedding of Ajay Gupta’s son Kamal Singhala was estimated by one publication to have cost €10-million (R154-million now) and took place barely two weeks after most of the family hurried left South Africa aboard their private jet on a late-night flight out of Lanseria airport.

A well-placed confidential source estimated that this month’s double wedding at Emirates Palace – featuring 14 events – will cost around R100-million.

The front page of the wedding invitation features the Gupta family’s crest, made up of the face of a lion, circled in a gold wreath with the words “Saharanpur” and “1850”. It was this crest that helped journalists identify the mansion the Gupta family bought in Dubai.

High profile guests from around the world are expected to attend the wedding ceremonies at the Emirates Palace, reportedly at $3-billion one of the most expensive hotels ever built. It is part of the Kempinsk Hotels group.

Suites are decorated in marble and gold and the inside of the 60-metre atrium dome, reportedly the highest in the world, is covered in gold leaf. Twenty-four-carat gold-flaked cappuccino is reportedly served. The hotel boasts two helicopter landing pads and its own 1.3 km stretch of beach.

The hotel’s website offers “indoor weddings”, “outdoor weddings” and “Indian weddings”.

The final page of the wedding invite also proudly features the logos of the Guptas companies in South Africa, including that of the now-shuttered Koornfontein mine where miners have gone unpaid since October.

On Wednesday, at least one miner was killed and another 20 people remained trapped underground at Koornfontein. It is believed that the people entered the mine illegally and were trapped after a methane gas explosion.

The Guptas are listed as “r/o [resident of] Johannesburg, South Africa” on the wedding invitation.

In fact, the Gupta brothers have been in self-imposed exile for almost a year. They have refused to appear before the Zondo Commission in person, claiming they mistrust the NPA and Hawks too much to return home.

A request for a comment directed to a Gupta lawyer in South Africa went unanswered. DM

The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, an independent non-profit, produced this story. Like it? Be an amaB Supporter to help us do more. Sign up for our newsletter and WhatsApp alerts to get more.

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