Guptas drop millions on lavish double wedding

2019-02-08 14:51
Tony and Atul Gupta. (amaBhungane)

Tony and Atul Gupta. (amaBhungane)

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The Guptas are to host yet another extravagant wedding – said to be costing the controversial family about R100m – 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 end 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.

Estina dairy project

The #GuptaLeaks would later provide evidence of how R30m from the provincial government-funded Estina dairy project in the Free State was laundered through a series of bank accounts in the United Arab Emirates 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bride's brother Varun Gupta, were charged in relation to the Estina case last year, but the charges were provisionally withdrawn by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in November.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 €10m (about R154m now) and took place barely two weeks after most of the family hurriedly 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 R100m.

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.

Gupta wedding invite

(Supplied: Gupta wedding invite)

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

Marble and gold

Suites are decorated in marble and gold and the inside of the 60m 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 1.3km 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 Friday, News24 reported that least six people were killed and over 20 remained trapped underground at the Gloria coal mine near Middelburg. 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 of inquiry into state capture in person, claiming they mistrust the NPA and Hawks too much to return home.

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

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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Read more on:    gupta family  |  abu dhabi  |  gupta emails  |  gupta leaks
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