Lord Peter Hain rose in the UK House of Lords on Thursday 17 October 2019 to ask whether the UK government would follow the US Treasury in imposing sanctions on Rajesh, Atul and Ajay Gupta. Hain’s question follows a letter he wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, on the same matter earlier in the week.
Hain called for the UK to “block all of their [Gupta] property and interests in property within UK jurisdiction, and like US persons, prohibit UK citizens and UK-based financial institutions and other UK-based entities from engaging in any transactions anywhere across the world with them.”
He also asked whether the government would “immediately contact the Dubai, Hong Kong and Indian authorities and ask them to do the same”.
“Through their corrupt criminality and shameful looting, blessed by former President Zuma, the Gupta brothers have ripped off South African taxpayers by well over £500-million, a lot of it laundered through London, Dubai, India and Hong Kong, and assisted by London-based corporates like McKinsey, KPMG, Bain & Co and Hogan Lovells. Any failure by global governments to act against all this would echo their failure to impose sanctions on apartheid South Africa.”
Responding to Hain, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, Foreign Minister of State Commonwealth, replied that at this point he was not able to say “anything further except that we are in touch with South African authorities at this point”. He added that the UK government had taken a “strong stance” in strengthening legislation aimed at tackling corruption and illicit finance.
With regard to contacting United Arab Emirates and Indian authorities, Ahmad said he had been informed that “South African authorities themselves had already made mutual legal assistance requests to the governments of the UAE and India.”
He said similar requests had been made by South African authorities to Canada, Switzerland, Mauritius, Hong Kong and China.
Lord St John of Blesto asked what measures were being taken, after South Africa had suffered a decade of corruption from “the Zuma regime”, to “root out perpetrators”.
Ahmad responded that the UK was “engaging with a wide range of institutions to provide support with investigations capacity” where it related to the UK as well as offering advice with regard to “procurement reform”.
The UK, said Ahmad, had committed to spending £45-million in the next five years to establish a global anti-corruption programme. DM