'Now for our local authorities to take action' says DA after US sanctions Guptas - AS IT HAPPENED

2019-10-10 18:16

The US Treasury announced sanctions against the controversial Gupta family and associate Salim Essa.

Ajay Gupta, Atul Gupta
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Last Updated at 18:49
10 Oct 21:19

The US Treasury announced sanctions against the controversial Gupta family and associate Salim Essa, it said in a statement on Thursday.

"The Guptas and Essa have used their influence with prominent politicians and parties to line their pockets with ill-gotten gains," said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

"The Gupta family leveraged its political connections to engage in widespread corruption and bribery, capture government contracts, and misappropriate state assets," she added.

COPE, in a statement, said that ''The ANC Government must shame itself that the United States is taking action against the Guptas for State Capture and Corruption while  South Africa fails to move an inch. COPE welcomes the harsh steps taken by the U.S Government of Blacklisting the controversial family.''

According to Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola, South African law enforcement agencies have issued mutual legal assistance requests to eight countries around the world, including the US.

Lamola added that South Africa and the US have a long history of co-operation on criminal justice, law enforcement and mutual legal assistance.

"Both countries are state parties to the UN Convention against Corruption and have a bilateral treaty. These international multilateral and bilateral frameworks allow law enforcement agencies of both countries to collaborate on matters of common interest like fighting corruption and ensuring that perpetrators of corruption have nowhere to hide," said the minister.

DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi, in response to questions from News24, has called the news a ''welcome development'', adding that ''it's now for our local authorities to take action.''

He said it is over a year since the start of the state capture commission but "those involved still walk freely, no arrests and no prosecutions".

"We need to see bold action from the Hawks, the NPA and all other law enforcement agencies."

- Compiled by Ethan Van Diemen


10 Oct 20:51

Read the full statement below:

Treasury sanctions members of a significant corruption network in South Africa

Today, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned members of a significant corruption network in South Africa that leveraged overpayments on government contracts, bribery, and other corrupt acts to fund political contributions and influence government actions. 

Specifically, OFAC designated Ajay Gupta, Atul Gupta, Rajesh Gupta, and Salim Essa for their involvement in corruption in South Africa pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

"Treasury’s designation targets the Guptas’ pay-to-play political patronage, which was orchestrated at the expense of the South African people," said Mandelker. 

"We will continue to exclude from the US financial system those who profit from corruption."

Today’s sanctions announcement demonstrates the US government’s unwavering commitment to supporting the rule of law and accountability in South Africa. 

We support the anti-corruption efforts of South Africa’s independent judiciary, law enforcement agencies, and the ongoing judicial commissions of inquiry.  Moreover, we commend the extraordinary work by South Africa’s civil society activists, investigative journalists, and whistleblowers, who have exposed the breadth and depth of the Gupta family’s corruption.

The Gupta family

Ajay, Atul, and Rajesh Gupta immigrated to South Africa in the 1990s, and due in large part to their generous donations to a political party and their reportedly close relationship with former South African President Jacob Zuma, their business interests expanded. The family has been implicated in several corrupt schemes in South Africa, allegedly stealing hundreds of millions of dollars through illegal deals with the South African government, obfuscated by a shadowy network of shell companies and associates linked to the family.

 Credible reports of these corruption schemes include the Gupta family offering members of the South African government money or elevated positions within the government, in return for their cooperation with Gupta family business efforts. Public reporting has revealed Gupta family efforts to garner the cooperation of a potential Minister of Finance by promising millions of dollars in return for the individual’s assistance in removing key members of the South African government who were considered to be stumbling blocks to the Gupta family’s enterprises.  

In another instance of an attempt to obtain the assistance of a member of government through illicit means, Rajesh reportedly promised a cut of a large scale development project to a provincial minister in return for the minister’s assistance.  

While making this offer, Rajesh reportedly referred to two other politically powerful individuals present at the meeting as receiving large monthly payments, similar to the one being offered the provincial minister, directly from Rajesh in return for their assistance with a mining project.  In addition, the Gupta family was overpaid for government contracts and then used a portion of the proceeds of those overpayments to donate money to a South African political party.

Further, the family paid money to a South African government official in exchange for the appointment of other government officials friendly to the Gupta family business interests. As a part of their corrupt business enterprise, South African government officials and business executives discussed ways to capture government contracts and then move the proceeds of those contracts through Gupta-owned businesses.

Ajay Gupta

Ajay Gupta (Ajay) is being designated for being the leader of an entity that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

Ajay is the family patriarch who formulated the family’s corrupt business strategies and controlled its finances.

Indian businessmen, Ajay Gupta and younger brother

Ajay Gupta and younger brother Atul Gupta, sit for an interview in Johannesburg. (Martin Rhodes, Gallo Images, Business Day, file)

Atul Gupta

Atul Gupta (Atul) has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, an entity that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

Atul is widely known to have overseen the Gupta family’s outreach to corrupt government officials.

Atul Gupta (right) and Rajesh Gupta (left) at the ANC's elective conference on December 17, 2012 in Mangaung. (Gallo)

Rajesh Gupta

Rajesh Gupta (Rajesh) has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, an entity that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

Rajesh cultivated important relationships with the sons of powerful South African politicians and led efforts to pursue business and relationships in a South African province where corruption was rampant. Rajesh attempted to use at least one of those relationships to seek undue influence with additional members of a South African political party.

Salim Essa

Salim Essa, a business associate of the Gupta family, has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, an entity that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals named above, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other designated persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. 

Salim Essa. (Supplied)

Unless authorised by a general or specific license issued by OFAC or otherwise exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by US persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.

In addition, any approval, financing, facilitation, or guarantee by a US person, wherever located, of a transaction by a foreign person where the transaction by that foreign person would be prohibited by E.O. 13818 if performed by a US person or within the United States would be prohibited.

Global Magnitsky

Building upon the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, on December 20, 2017, the President signed E.O. 13818, in which the President found that the prevalence of human rights abuse and corruption that have their source, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States, had reached such scope and gravity that it threatens the stability of international political and economic systems.  

Human rights abuse and corruption undermine the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies; have devastating impacts on individuals; weaken democratic institutions; degrade the rule of law; perpetuate violent conflicts; facilitate the activities of dangerous persons; and undermine economic markets. 

The United States seeks to impose tangible and significant consequences on those who commit serious human rights abuse or engage in corruption, as well as to protect the financial system of the United States from abuse by these same persons.

To date, the Department of the Treasury has designated 118 individuals and entities under E.O. 13818.  This figure is in addition to the numerous human rights- or corruption-related designations Treasury has issued under other various authorities.  

In total, since January of 2017, Treasury has taken action against more than 680 individuals and entities engaged in activities related to, or directly involving, human rights abuse or corruption.


10 Oct 20:39

10 Oct 20:33

10 Oct 20:22

''The damning evidence before the Zondo Commission by Magashule's once trusted ally, former MEC of Economic Development Mxolisi Dukwana totally aggravates the allegations against him.

''COPE can only come to one conclusion as to why the Hawks and the NPA are not taking action against the corrupt elements.It is all because the entire Luthuli House will implode.COPE calls on the criminal justice system to follow in the footsteps of the US. 

''We can't leave it to outsiders, we must lead by example to show that the people of South Africa hate corruption and that nobody is above the law,'' COPE's statement ends. 


10 Oct 20:21

It continues that ''It is very abhorrent and shameful that the ANC leaders such as Jacob Zuma and Ace Magashule behave as if it is business as usual. Zuma allegedly stole taxpayers money to build his private residence called Nkandla, he allegedly sold our country to his friends known as the Guptas but continues to plead innocence.

The mountain of very serious allegations of corruption against Magashule the former Premier of the Free State and now the Secretary General of the ANC, the evidence before the Zondo Commission about his and the Guptas involvement in the Vrede Estina Dairy Project and the well documented book against him 'Gangster State' all confirm how the Free State Government was allegedly looted by Magashule.''


10 Oct 20:19

COPE, in a statement released on Thursday evening, has called it a ''total disgrace'' that the United States government is taking action against the Guptas and not South African authorities.

The statement reads: ''The ANC Government must shame itself that the United States is taking action against the Guptas for State Capture and Corruption while  South Africa fails to move an inch. COPE welcomes the harsh steps taken by the U.S Government of Blacklisting the controversial family.'' 

  

10 Oct 20:09

10 Oct 19:54

In 2017, Financial Times reported that the FBI opened an investigation into US links to the Guptas, while the UK asked financial enforcement agencies to probe possible ties between HSBC and Standard Chartered to South Africa’s Gupta family. 

The FBI was using information from the #GuptaLeaks emails, the FT reported at the time. 

The probe focused on US citizens Ashish and Amol Gupta, nephews of Atul and Ajay Gupta. The nephews have a company which received payments from a Dubai-based, SA Gupta-linked company, the FT said, quoting people familiar with the matter.


10 Oct 19:35

10 Oct 19:23

In case you missed it: Tony Gupta was a business partner as well as a "dear" and "close" friend of his, Duduzane Zuma told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Monday. 

Zuma, the son of former president Jacob Zuma, was testifying at the state capture commission of inquiry in Johannesburg. 

"I spent a lot of time with him on a daily basis," he said.

When Zondo asked him if Gupta was particularly close to him, he responded: "More than particularly close. That's my guy." 


10 Oct 19:10

10 Oct 19:00

Gupta Leaks - A collaborative investigation into state capture

Visit the Gupta Leaks website to see all our coverage on the controversial family that the US Treasury says leveraged its political connections to engage in widespread corruption and bribery, capture government contracts, and misappropriate state assets.


10 Oct 18:24

South African law enforcement agencies have issued mutual legal assistance requests to eight countries around the world, including the United States.

This was revealed by Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola on Thursday after it was announced that the US imposed sanctions on the controversial Gupta brothers and fellow businessman Salim Essa.

"Sanctions have a direct impact on the financial and private interests of affected individuals. Furthermore, these sanctions will ensure that companies or individuals are prohibited from conducting any business in the USA or with any American company worldwide," Lamola said.


10 Oct 18:20

"Treasury’s designation targets the Guptas’ pay-to-play political patronage, which was orchestrated at the expense of the South African people," said Mandelker. 

Photo: Ajay and Atul Gupta and Duduzane Zuma. (Gallo Images)


10 Oct 18:18

Some background on the Gupta family:

Ajay, Atul, and Rajesh Gupta immigrated to South Africa in the 1990s, and due in large part to their generous donations to a political party and their reportedly close relationship with former South African President Jacob Zuma, their business interests expanded.

The family has been implicated in several corrupt schemes in South Africa, allegedly stealing hundreds of millions of dollars through illegal deals with the South African government, obfuscated by a shadowy network of shell companies and associates linked to the family.


10 Oct 18:17

10 Oct 18:17

"The Guptas and Essa have used their influence with prominent politicians and parties to line their pockets with ill-gotten gains," said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

"The Gupta family leveraged its political connections to engage in widespread corruption and bribery, capture government contracts, and misappropriate state assets," she added.


10 Oct 18:16
Specifically, OFAC designated Ajay Gupta, Atul Gupta, Rajesh Gupta, and Salim Essa for their involvement in corruption in South Africa pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

10 Oct 18:16
The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned members of a significant corruption network in South Africa that leveraged overpayments on government contracts, bribery, and other corrupt acts to fund political contributions and influence government actions.

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