Ajay Gupta on 'witch hunt': 'I want to clear my name'

2018-10-22 11:31
Indian businessmen Ajay and Atul Gupta speak to the City Press from the New Age Newspaper's offices in Midrand, Johannesburg. (Muntu Vilakazi, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

Indian businessmen Ajay and Atul Gupta speak to the City Press from the New Age Newspaper's offices in Midrand, Johannesburg. (Muntu Vilakazi, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

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State capture accused Ajay Gupta says he and his family have done nothing wrong and that he wants to clear his name.

Speaking to The New York Times in Dubai, the eldest Gupta brother said the allegations made at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture were false.

These include accusations that the Guptas offered ministerial positions in return for favours.

Gupta told The New York Times: "I'm not saying that I'm not coming to the commission… I will, but not at this moment."

Gupta reportedly said the family was "caught in the crossfire" between ANC factions and their business allies. 

Victims of a 'witch hunt'

Gupta claimed the family was the victim of a "witch hunt" by "politically motivated law-enforcement authorities". 

In September, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who chairs the inquiry, refused the Guptas' request that the commission travel abroad to hear their testimony. He also turned down their request to testify via video link, News24 reported at the time.

"If the commission does not hear the side of the Gupta brothers it will not be because of the commission, but that they decided to turn their backs on South Africa," Zondo said.

Gupta told The New York Times that the commission was simply "not interested" in hearing his side of the story.

READ: The state capture inquiry: what you need to know

Earlier this month, Nhlanhla Nene resigned as finance minister after admitting at the commission that he had met with the Guptas several times between 2009 and 2014.

"I was wrong in meeting the Guptas at their residence and not in my office, or at least a public place," Nene said in a statement.

"I should, subject to there being a legitimate reason for doing so, have met (the) Guptas at my office accompanied, as is customary, by a Ministry of Finance or National Treasury official."

'Nothing wrong with politicians visiting me'

Gupta told The New York Times that there had been "nothing wrong" with Nene visiting him at his home.

"Forget Nene. We never asked any minister for any commercial benefit," he reportedly said.

ALSO READ: #StateCaptureInquiry: 5 revelations from Nene's testimony

Nene is not the only senior government official who reportedly visited the Guptas.

Mcebisi Jonas, former deputy minister of finance, has said that the Guptas offered him the position of finance minister in March 2016, offering him an initial R600 000 cash, and then R600m to be given later.

But Gupta contests this. In the interview, Gupta claims that neither he nor his brother Rajesh were at home during Jonas' visit.  

Jonas refused the Guptas' offer and former president Jacob Zuma infamously replaced Nene, who was minister of finance at the time, with the unknown Des van Rooyen in December 2015.

Days later, Zuma was forced to replace Van Rooyen with Pravin Gordhan.

ANC MP Vytjie Mentor also testified that the Guptas had offered her a Cabinet position at their house in Saxonwold in 2010. Zuma was also in the house at the time, according to Mentor.  

'Who did not come to meet me?'

Gupta told The New York Times that "countless" politicians had visited his home, both from the ANC and opposition parties.

"Who did not come and meet me?" Gupta reportedly asked.

Gupta told the US-based publication that there was nothing wrong with meeting with people.

"Every business organisation meets with the politicians and the people," Gupta reportedly said.

The Zondo commission is set to resume on November 12.

Former minister of public enterprises Barbara Hogan and Gordhan are expected to give their testimonies.

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Read more on:    ajay gupta  |  gupta family  |  state capture inquiry  |  state capture  |  corruption

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