South Africa

AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY

Wanted: NPA secures Red Notices for fugitive Guptas

Indian businessmen, Ajay Gupta and younger brother Atul Gupta at a one-on-one interview with Business Day in Johannesburg, South Africa on 2 March 2011 regarding their professional relationships. (Photo by Gallo Images/Business Day/Martin Rhodes)

Interpol notice likely to make it extremely difficult for the Gupta brothers to travel internationally. Ironically it comes in the midst of their friend, former president Jacob Zuma’s own efforts to dodge jail time.

The Investigating Directorate of the National Prosecuting Authority on 5 July 2021, confirmed that Interpol has issued Red Notices for two Gupta brothers and their wives. 

The notices are likely to make it incredibly hard for the fugitives from justice to travel internationally.

It comes amid the home-ground battle of their friend, former president Jacob Zuma’s own efforts to dodge a jail sentence for contempt of court handed down by the country’s highest court last week. 

South African law enforcement was able to apply for the Red Notices on the back of arrest warrants obtained for brothers Atul and Rajesh and their wives Chetali and Arti and three others, including long-serving Gupta lieutenant, Ravi Nath. 

They face charges relating to an R24.9-million criminal case in the Free State

While Dubai has widely been regarded as the Gupta family’s primary base since they fled South Africa several years ago, there have been reports of business activity in Uzbekistan and their native, India. 

The family’s business empire stands accused of having raked in nearly R60-billion from tainted deals in South Africa.

Read more here: Gupta money was channelled along terrorist network — and paid for Zuma’s legal fees

And although they have refused to travel to South Africa to answer to serious corruption allegations levelled at them in the public inquiry into State Capture, they continue to litigate in South African courts. 

Daily Maverick revealed details of Atul Gupta’s battle to obtain a new South African passport last week. 

The Investigating Directorate’s Sindisiwe Seboka announced details of the Red Notices shortly after the Free State criminal case in which they have been charged was postponed for transfer to the Bloemfontein high court on Monday morning. 

The case was postponed in the absence of the other accused due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. 

Former Gupta associate Iqbal Sharma remains in custody since his arrest in early June 2021. He was denied bail. 

Sharma, a former Transnet Board member, was the sole director of Nulane Investments 204; a company that landed the R24-million contract in the Free State in 2011. 

He is accused of having immediately outsourced the job to Deloitte for R1.5-million, a fraction of the cost to government. 

The State alleges that Sharma then entered into another sub-contract for exactly the same services, this time with a Gupta-linked company, Gateway Limited in Dubai. 

Sharma’s co-accused — his brother-in-law Dinesh Patel and former Free State government officials — Peter Thabethe, Seipati Dhlamini and Limakatso Moorosi, out on bail of R10,000 each. 

They, along with the Guptas, face charges ranging from violations of the Public Finance Management Act, fraud, theft and money laundering relating to a feasibility study that had served as a precursor to the R288-million Estina dairy scandal. 

The case has been moved to the Bloemfontein high court for trial, scheduled for September 2021. 

Daily Maverick recently published details of plans by the prosecution to apply for a separate trial for the Guptas in order to safeguard the rights of all the other accused to a speedy trial. DM

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