Transnet contracts, exposed in #Guptaleaks, to feature in FBI probe

One of Transnet's new cranes. (James-Brent Styan)
One of Transnet's new cranes. (James-Brent Styan)

Johannesburg - Transnet’s contracts with Swiss crane manufacturer Liebherr and China South Rail is set to star in the FBI investigation, as US authorities show they are not shy to pursue investigations against foreign nationals that may be using the American for possible money laundering.

The American investigation will make use of information obtained from the #GuptaLeaks emails, which details suspect money flows from Transnet to a Gupta-link business in the US, according to reports.  The leaks revealed how in 2014 a Gupta front company based in Dubai called Accurate Investments, transferred funds to a US company owned by Gupta nephews.  

On Thursday the Financial Times reported that the FBI has opened an investigation into US links to the Guptas, and to track illicit funds linked to the family via Hong Kong and Dubai.

The reports indicated that the FBI’s investigation will zoom in on cash flows between South African Gupta-owned companies, Dubai and a company owned by Ashish and Amol Gupta in the United States.

Questions had been sent to the FBI's media office. 

American Guptas

Ashish and Amol are US citizens, apparently living in Houston, Texas. They are the nephews of Atul and Ajay Gupta and own Brookfield, in which Accurate paid the funds.

In July AmaBhungane and Scorpio revealed that over US$1-million paid by Swiss crane manufacturer Liebherr ultimately ended up in a US company, Brookfield Consulting, owned by the nephews.  

Roughly another US$9-million – apparently originating with China South Rail's "consulting" contract –  was also wired to Brookfield’s  JP Morgan Chase bank account in New York, the joint investigation showed.

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.

US anti-bribery and money laundering laws allow the country’s criminal investigators to probe, even if it transcends American borders. The laws allow members of an international criminal conspiracy to be prosecuted in American courts.  

Last month Corruption Watch announced it would approach the US justice system to investigate the firm’s conduct in South Africa.

Corruption Watch also waiting

Executive director David Lewis told Fin24 that the investigation was not linked to the advocacy group’s submission, which focuses on global consultancy McKinsey and its role in the state capture at Eskom.

“Our submission is still with our US lawyer,” he said.

Corruption Watch’s dossier contains detailed accounts of McKinsey and its role in the state capture at Eskom.

Lewis said as far as he could see from the FBI investigation, it is focused on the Gupta-family and corruption.

“This is about the US and the UK raising concerns that their currencies and financial institutions could be used as mechanism for money laundering,” he said. “Both the US and the UK’s interests have been raised with alleged criminality in their jurisdiction."

He said there have been numerous rumours that the Houston-based Gupta nephews have been laundering money for the family on US soil.

Lewis believed that the investigations were triggered by the swirl of reports about the Gupta-family, particularly concerning their activities in Dubai, and how the leaked  mails exposed their use of financial institutions.

The FBI did not shy away from the FIFA corruption investigation, and have also launched a number of other investigations that involve nationals on foreign soil, he pointed out.

“And now law enforcement agencies is looking into money laundering in South Africa,” said Lewis. 


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