Accessibility links

Breaking News

Getting Back Alleged Gupta Greed

Members of the South African Asset Forfeiture Unit and other law enforcement agencies arrive to search the Gupta family compound on April 16, 2018 in Johannesburg.

South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority, the NPA, says it’s confident that three Gupta Indian businessmen brothers who allegedly stole billions of dollars in corrupt deals will eventually face justice.

Investigators say Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta helped former President Jacob Zuma and others in the ruling African National Congress, the ANC, loot an estimated one trillion rands, or 100-billion U.S. dollars, from state-owned enterprises.

The alleged crimes happened mostly in the final four years of Zuma’s presidency, between 2014 and 2018, and in South Africa have been dubbed “state capture.”

Zuma says ‘state capture’ is a “media creation” and that his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has orchestrated corruption allegations against him.

The Gupta brothers say their activities were legal. They began building a business empire, including interests in mining, media and computers, in South Africa in 1993, forming close relationships with top ANC members.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange says Atul Gupta alone had holdings of almost 11-billion dollars in South Africa in 2016.

In February, Interpol issued Red Notices for the Guptas. NPA deputy director Anton du Plessis says the notices request law enforcement worldwide to locate and arrest the Guptas so they can be extradited to South Africa.

The NPA official said "The arrest warrants and Red Notices have been issued. The key issue now is locating where these suspects are.”

Investigators have told VOA the Guptas are “flitting” between Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and various cities in India. The governments of South Africa, India and the UAE have extradition treaties.

In theory, says du Plessis, this should make it easier to bring the Guptas to justice in South Africa.

But many South Africans, accustomed to decades of ruling party corruption without punishment, don’t share du Plessis’ confidence.

Du Plessis promises “real movement” soon with prosecutions of those who allegedly perpetrated some of the biggest-ever financial crimes not only in South Africa, but the world.

“Over the next 6 months," he told VOA, "these cases will be enrolled; we’re going to see a major shift in sentiment in this country - the idea that impunity is something that’s going to continue for these crimes is simply going to end. Justice is going to win again in this country, it’s just going to take a bit of time.”