Gupta latest: Atul in talks, Ajay officially under arrest

2018-02-14 18:00

Tense negotiations are still under way with the lawyers of five suspects arrested by the Hawks in connection with the R220m looted from the failed dairy farm in Vrede, Free State.

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Last Updated at 09:21
14 Feb 18:14

City Press reported earlier on Wednesday that at least two suspects – one a Gupta brother and the other the former Free State agriculture department head Peter Thabethe – were expected to appear in the Commercial Crimes Court in Bloemfontein.

But City Press has just learnt from a senior security cluster official that they would appear before a magistrate if one could be found after hours. If not, they would appear in court on Thursday morning.

Gupta latest: Atul in talks, Ajay officially under arrest

Tense negotiations were still under way by Wednesday evening with the lawyers of five suspects arrested by the Hawks in connection with the R220 million looted from the failed dairy farm in Vrede, Free State.


14 Feb 16:46

Hawks set for briefing in Parliament on Vrede operation

The Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) will be invited to brief the Portfolio Committee on Police relating to the investigations into the Vrede Farm matter.

This follows an early morning raid by the Hawk's on the Gupta compound in Saxonwold and the questioning of Ajay Gupta in relation to the Vrede dairy farm project, which cost Free State tax payers nearly R570m.

Free State agriculture department head Peter Thabethe was arrested during a raid on his house in Bloemfontein.

"The concerted efforts to investigate the misuse of state-allocated funds is part of the core mandate of the DPCI, and the Committee welcomes these breakthroughs," chairperson of committee Francois Beukman said.

He said the committee had always reiterated its call for intensified implementation of the DPCI mandate.

"The intensified fight against corruption adds impetus to the National Development Plan’s vision of a prosperous South Africa that is safe and has the ability to create job opportunities to its citizenry," said Beukman.


14 Feb 15:51

Call to act on Magashule, Zwane over Gupta-linked Vrede scandal

All political leaders involved in the Vrede Dairy Project scandal must be arrested and be called to account, demanded the FF Plus in a statement on Wednesday.

FF Plus MP Wouter Wessels said his party welcomed the arrest of Peter Thabethe, the former head of the department of the Free State Department of Agriculture.

The Hawks conducted simultaneous raids on the Gupta’s mansion in Saxonwold, Johannesburg and Thabethe’s house in Bloemfontein on Wednesday morning.

Thabethe was arrested and Ajay Gupta was taken in for questioning.

"It is, however, disturbing that only one official that was involved in the scandal, which cost Free State tax payers nearly R570 million, was arrested. Numerous political leaders were also involved in the jobbery," said Wessels.

The Department of the Premier in the Free State, headed by Ace Magashule, approved and signed off on the controversial contract with Estina.

Mineral and Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane was the MEC for the Department of Agriculture at the time. He is believed to have selected the location for the project, namely Vrede, which is Zwane’s hometown.

Wessels said Magashule and various other members of the provincial Cabinet defended the project for years. This despite the Auditor General and opposition parties’ repeated objections and their warnings of large-scale money squandering.

"The FF Plus demands that urgent legal action be taken against all who were involved and not just the Department officials.

"We will not allow all the blame for the Vrede Dairy Project to be put on the shoulders of one junior official. Everyone that was involved must be prosecuted, especially the senior politicians that benefited most," said Wessels.


14 Feb 15:11

Hawks' Guptas clamp down long overdue, says OUTA

The Hawks' actions against the Guptas is in all likelihood a sign that the new leadership of the ANC is starting to have an impact on tackling corruption, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) said on Wednesday.

“It is no secret that the Gupta family and a number of their associates have been implicated in numerous dubious and unlawful transactions," said OUTO COO Ben Theron in a statement.

He said a substantive amount of evidence has been provided to the authorities in the form of charges laid at various police stations to assist the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority with their investigations.

"OUTA has laid numerous charges with the police against individuals, including Cabinet ministers, who are implicated in fraud, corruption and treason and we are grateful that the hard work we have conducted over the past few years is now paying dividends."


14 Feb 15:08

14 Feb 15:02

Gupta raids boost Ramaphosa's reputation as a crimefighter - Silke

“The raids will add impetus to the messages conveyed by Cyril Ramaphosa at Davos and in his interaction with foreign and domestic investors that he is serious about rooting out the rot and forging a new path,” said political analyst Daniel Silke.

They constitute “important signals that South Africa is looking at positive change in governance and is therefore again a credible country in which business can operate”. 

“In the short term, while the law will take its course, these are sentiment-building optics that provide an important parallel to the still unresolved political impasse," said Silke. 

"But investors will take these signs as an indication of what is to come and will look favourably on the country, even as it grapples with a very messy and protracted leadership transition.”


14 Feb 14:38

Corruption Watch calls for crack down on looters amid Hawks raid on Guptas

Corruption Watch has urged the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that those responsible for gross abuses of power and looting public resources are prosecuted and imprisoned.

This follows the Hawk's raid on the Gupta compound, and the subsequent arrests, including that of Free State agriculture department head Peter Thabethe and the questioning of Ajay Gupta in relation to the Vrede dairy farm investigations.

Corruption Watch has repeatedly called for those implicated in multiple corruption scandals to be held accountable and brought to book.

It said in a statement on Wednesday that the so-called dairy project clearly exposes how the most disadvantaged members of society bear the brunt of corruption.

"The failed Vrede dairy farm project is a classic example of the complicity of several key government ministers and officials, including Mosebenzi Zwane and Ace Magashule, as well as President Zuma’s son Duduzane.

"The wheels of justice, however, must continue to turn apace, in light of the weight of evidence that has been stacking up against parties, including several cabinet ministers and senior private- and public-sector executives, involved in the looting of our state-owned enterprises such as Eskom, Transnet, SAA, Denel, PRASA, the SABC and others."

The organisation added that private sector companies that engaged in corrupt deals should not escape punishment.

"Corruption Watch will continue to actively focus its attention on companies like McKinsey, KPMG and SAP, for their involvement in unscrupulous and corrupt business deals."


14 Feb 14:03

Column by Adriaan Basson:

Writing about bankruptcy, Ernest Hemingway famously penned that it happened "gradually and then suddenly".

The Zupta empire led by Godfather Jacob and Dons Ajay, Atul, Tony and Duduzane, are experiencing that right now. They may not be bankrupt (yet), but their criminal syndicate is quickly imploding as the Nasrec winds of change sweep over the country.

Less than 24 hours after the governing ANC recalled its cadre, Jacob Zuma, as president of South Africa, the police's elite crime-fighting unit, the Hawks, swooped on the Guptas and their associates.


14 Feb 13:49

3 arrested in Hawks Gupta raids

he Hawks have arrested three people following a raid at the Guptas' Saxonwold residence on Wednesday morning.

News24 understands that one Gupta brother and a business associate are among those arrested and more arrests are imminent.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said they were currently conducting ongoing operations at various addresses in Gauteng.

Mulaudzi said the operations were part of the Vrede farm investigations.


14 Feb 13:00
WATCH: Police Minister Fikile Mbalula mum on the Gupta raid

14 Feb 12:19

SAFTU welcomes Hawks’ arrests 

The South African Federation of Trade Unions welcomes the Hawks’ raid on the Gupta compound in Saxonwold, Johannesburg this morning, the arrest of Ajay Gupta, and the simultaneous arrest of Peter Thabethe, former head of the Free State Agriculture Department, in connection with the investigation into the Vrede Dairy Farm scandal. 

These moves follow their search and seizure operations at the office of Free State Premier Ace Magashule and the provincial office of the Department of Agriculture relating to allegations of corruption, and the theft of money which was budgeted to assist poor farmers.

The federation also welcomes the statement by Hawks Spokesperson, Hangwani Mulaudzi. that “We are not playing around. We take this investigation very seriously”. 

This is a further victory for SAFTU and all the other organisations who have been demanding this sort of serious action for a long time.

It gives us hope that there is now a serious drive to prosecute those allegedly involved in corruption and the looting of public money.

Welcome though it is however, these raids must be just the opening shots in a much broader campaign against all those implicated in this and many other scandals, including those in the private sector, such as McKinsey and Trillian, who were involved in the R1.59bn looted through fraud, theft, corruption and money laundering from Eskom.

The Hawks and NPA must now take the same kind of action against all of those named in the former Public Protector’s ‘State of Capture’ report, the Gupta emails and Jacques Pauw’s ‘The President’s Keepers’.

There must be no exceptions, amnesties, pardons or plea bargaining. Every one of those involved must now face their day in court.

SAFTU also continues to insist that these crimes are not confined to a few businesses, families and politicians - a ‘Guptocracy’ - but is an inherent feature of a monopoly capitalist system, whose ruling class captured the state years ago and still dominates economic policy-making today. 


14 Feb 11:57

14 Feb 11:46

Media Statement on the Hawks Arrests related to the Vrede Dairy Project Scandal

The EFF in the Free State welcomes the swift action by the Hawks which has led to the arrests of those responsible for the grand theft of over R220m meant for black farmers in Vrede.

These arrests of the Gupta brothers, their business associates and the HOD of the Department of Agriculture in the province are a clear indication that the net is quickly closing on the Zuma and Ace Makgashule criminal network which has seen billions of rands meant for service delivery and the development of public health and education infrastructure being syphoned and laundered to outside the country and some even used to sponsor lavish weddings and lifestyles.

We have been reliably informed, because of our close proximity to the case, that there are more high profile arrests that are still coming and we remain hopeful that some of them will lead to the kingpins, such as Ace Makgashule and Mosebenzi Zwane also brought to book.

We call on all people of the Free State to be on the alert and ensure that they report all the corruption in this province. We would like to assure them that EFF shall never rest until all those who steal from the people are exposed and locked behind bars. 


14 Feb 11:43

STATEMENT BY THE DA:

Hawks raids cannot end with Guptas and must be extended to implicated Ministers

The DA welcomes the ongoing reports that the Hawks are swooping in on the Gupta brothers, beginning with an early morning raid on the family compound in Saxonwold.

However, this is 6 months overdue and if any incriminating evidence has been found at the residence, it would be by accident as the compound would likely have been cleared out months ago.

The Gupta brothers must face up to the allegations of corruption and their involvement in the State Capture.

The investigations and action simply cannot end here and must continue to all those implicated, including key Ministers, such as Mosebenzi Zwane, Des van Rooyen, Lynn Brown, David Mahlobo.

They too must answer the allegations and be arrested and prosecuted if needs be.

The Hawks must also ensure that ANC Secretary General, Ace Magushule is thoroughly investigated for his alleged role in relation to the Vrede dairy farm project,in which R10m allegedly went directly to Atul Gupta.

Although the wheels of justice have moved slowly until recently, the raids this morning are a step in the right direction. We cannot however lose momentum.

The country’s crime-fighting bodies must push ahead to ensure all those implicated in stealing from the people of South Africa are investigated and held accountable.


14 Feb 11:26

Ajay Gupta ‘taken in for questioning’

The Hawks on Wednesday morning confirmed their action relating to their investigation into the Vrede dairy farm owned by Gupta-linked company Estina.

Although the Hawks have not named those arrested, City Press has learnt from a source close to the Guptas’ legal team that the elder Gupta brother, Ajay Gupta, has been taken in for questioning.

“Although the lawyers have said that their clients have not been arrested, Ajay Gupta has been taken in for questioning,” the source said.

The Hawks have not confirmed this, however.


14 Feb 11:17

Gupta raid: What we know so far

- Three have been made, the Hawks have confirmed in a statement, which includes one Gupta brother.

- Two other suspects are expected to hand themselves over to the Hawks.

- The arrests are in regard to the Vrede Farm investigations in the Free State as well as investigations into alleged state capture.

- The arrested Gupta brother is set to appear in court alongside former Free State agriculture department head Peter Thabethe, who was also arrested this morning.

- SAPS raided the offices of the Gupta’s Oakbay holding company, according to a security guard outside the building.


14 Feb 11:04

What The Guptas Have Been Telling Their Lawyer

Ajay Gupta and lawyer Ahmed Gani have been meeting almost daily recently, HuffPost understands. Gani confirmed on Wednesday — after the Hawks raided the Gupta family home in Saxonwold, Johannesburg — that he was meeting the Gupta brothers for a consultation.

According to notes from previous consultations between Ajay Gupta and Gani seen by HuffPost, the family is likely to adopt a position of denial in relation to the various allegations of state capture they face.

Ajay Gupta plans to deny that the family has been illegally enriched, that they had a close relationship with Brian Molefe when he was Eskom boss, and that the #GuptaLeaks emails are real.


14 Feb 10:58

14 Feb 10:39

Gupta brothers to appear in court today, state to oppose bail

At least one of the Gupta brothers is set to appear in the Commercial Crimes Court in Bloemfontein later today.

City Press was told by a senior source within the security cluster that the unnamed Gupta brother will be appearing in court alongside former Free State agriculture department head Peter Thabethe.

The charges are likely to be fraud, corruption and money laundering.

City Press was also told that if the Hawks managed to arrest the other Gupta brother and President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane this morning, then they would also appear in the dock alongside them.


14 Feb 10:34

UPDATE:

South African police target Gupta's Oakbay holding company - security guard

South African police raided the offices of the Gupta’s Oakbay holding company on Wednesday, according to a security guard outside the building in Johannesburg’s upscale Sandton financial district, Reuters reports.

The guard, who did not want to be named, said officers arrived in three vehicles around 07:30 and entered the building. They left shortly afterwards, the guard said. 


14 Feb 10:21
LATEST:

14 Feb 10:09

14 Feb 09:57

14 Feb 09:54

ICYMI:

The Guptas think I'm a 'likeable guy' - Duduzane Zuma tells the BBC

President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma defended his business relations with the controversial Gupta-family, saying they became partners because he is “a likeable guy.”

"I don’t think they wanted anything from me. They liked me. As I liked them. I think I’m a likeable guy," Duduzane said.

"It was just a meeting of minds - they understood me, I understood them."

In the interview, Duduzane also denied allegations by former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas that he was offered a bribe by Gupta family. 


14 Feb 09:49
WATCH: Hawks raid Gupta compound

14 Feb 09:44

While Hawks officers are on the hunt for President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, as well as one Gupta brother, all was quiet outside Duduzane Zuma’s Saxonwold home this morning, report Abram Mashego, Gayle Edmunds and Dewald van Rensburg.

The property at 18 Griswold Drive, which is situated about two blocks away from the Gupta family compound in Saxonwold, is registered under the name of a holding company belonging to Duduzane Zuma and the Gupta family.

The expensive-looking property, situated on a double stand in the exclusive suburb, is owned by Mabengela Investments.

The Bank of Baroda gave Mabengela Investments a R3.6 million bond over the property back in 2009.

However, neighbours say that Duduzane Zuma has not been seen or heard at the property for a while now.

Neighbours say that they usually hear the sound of his sportscars’ engines, but these have been silent of late.His extensive security – which includes a number of guards on duty around the clock and which is usually highly visible from the street – have also not been there.

Today, there was one neighbourhood security guard in the street outside patrolling the area, but there was no sign of life at Duduzane’s home aside from a white Mercedes Benz four-wheel-drive vehicle which was parked in the driveway partially hidden by the house.

Duduzane Zuma is being sought by the Hawks for his involvement in the failed Vrede dairy farm project from which more than R200 million was syphoned off by Gupta-owned companies.

One of those companies is Westdawn Investments, of which Duduzane Zuma was a director at the time the project was looted.

Duduzane Zuma owns a 22.7% stake in Westdawn Investments.

It is unclear which charges Duduzane Zuma will face, however the Asset Forfeiture Unit application to preserve Gupta assets in respect of the dairy project speaks of those involved in syphoning off the cash being potentially guilty of fraud, money laundering and corruption.

City Press could not reach Duduzane Zuma for comment.


14 Feb 09:41

14 Feb 09:34

ICYMI:

Gupta empire crumbles

The net is finally closing around the Gupta family members of which are now being pursued in earnest by the Hawks, with at least seven cases said to be at an “advanced stage” of investigation.

City Press understands that these cases include Atul Gupta’s offer of ministerial positions to former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and former MP Vytjie Mentor, as well as multibillion-rand Gupta contracts at state-owned enterprises including Eskom and Transnet.

Sources from the Hawks, close to the police ministry and elsewhere in the security cluster told City Press that Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, who was the province’s MEC for agriculture at the time the Guptas allegedly milked his department of R220m – is facing arrest along with his former head of department Peter Thabethe, as are at least two of the Gupta brothers.


14 Feb 09:29

Former free state agriculture head Peter Thabethe arrested

Former Free State agriculture head, Peter Thabethe, has been arrested in connection with his involvement in the failed dairy farm project in Vrede.

Thabethe was the head of department at the time that now-Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane was the MEC for agriculture.

A senior security cluster official told City Press that Thabethe was arrested on Wednesday morning after a raid on his home in Bloemfontein early Wednesday morning.

Simultaneous raids were conducted on both the Gupta family’s Saxonwold mansions and Thabethe’s house in the Free State capital.


14 Feb 09:21

14 Feb 09:17

A source has confirmed to News24 that one Gupta brother and a business associate have been arrested. 

According to the source, arrest are imminent for other family members.


14 Feb 09:13

#GuptaLeaks: The Dubai Laundromat – How millions milked from Free State government paid for Sun City wedding

By all accounts, the 2013 Sun City nuptials of the Guptas' niece, Vega, was a dazzling display of the family’s wealth.

Except it was not. 

The #GuptaLeaks reveal that the Free State provincial government largely picked up the tab for the “event of the millennium”, as it was described by a guest, KPMG Africa then-chief executive Moses Kgosana.

“My wife and I were privileged to attend and enjoyed every moment and every occasion,” Kgosana gushed in a thank-you note to Atul Gupta. “I have never been to an event like that and probably will not because it was an event of the millennium.”

Surely, though, the long list of political and business figures attending the multi-day spectacular was not privy to the veiled source of funds.Except KPMG’s Kgosana should have been.

KPMG were the auditors of the Guptas' Linkway Trading (Pty) Ltd. This company, we shall see, played a crucial role in allowing the diversion of cash earmarked for the Free State’s Vrede dairy project to reimburse most of the wedding expenses – R30m to be exact.


14 Feb 09:07
WATCH: Hawks raid Gupta compound

14 Feb 08:57

14 Feb 08:39

Guptas, Duduzane Zuma face arrest today

As a dramatic raid is carried out on the Gupta family’s Saxonwold compound, City Press has learnt of the imminent arrest of at least two Gupta brothers as well as Duduzane Zuma.

City Press was told by a senior source within the security cluster that two Gupta brothers as well as President Jacob Zuma’s son face arrest from today in connection with money laundering, fraud and corruption charges related to the failed dairy farm project in Vrede, Free State.

The source was unable to reveal which two of the three Gupta brothers are set to be arrested.

However, City Press has established that elder Gupta brother Ajay is in the country.


14 Feb 08:31

14 Feb 08:29

14 Feb 08:23

14 Feb 08:22

Last month, the Hawks also conducted search and seizure operations at both Free State Premier Ace Magashule's offices and the provincial office of the department of agriculture.

An affidavit has also revealed that Free State's agricultural department – under then MEC Mosebenzi Zwane – paid the R220m to the Guptas and some of their associates in what the AFU calls a "scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department".


14 Feb 08:18

14 Feb 08:08

14 Feb 08:00

ICYMI:

Des van Rooyen admits asking Guptas' help for MKMVA

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des van Rooyen has admitted to meeting the Guptas to enlist their help for the Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA).

The meeting came to light in a report by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, in which she found that Van Rooyen deliberately misled Parliament when he answered a question about his meetings with the Guptas.

In his response to the Public Protector, Van Rooyen admitted that he met with the Guptas in his capacity as the MKMVA treasurer general. 


14 Feb 07:56

Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi told News24 that officers were on scene, but could not immediately confirm the details of the operation.

"We are there. We will be issuing a statement later." 


14 Feb 07:55

14 Feb 07:54

14 Feb 07:54

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