'Delighted' Business Unity SA on Gupta sanctions: 'The noose is tightening'

Business lobby group Business Unity SA has described the decision by the US Treasury to sanctioned the Gupta family as the "sort of decisive action we all need," saying it will reinforce SA campaigns to combat state capture and corruption.

"They have done South Africa a huge service," said BUSA President Sipho Pityana in a statement on Friday. "The US sanctions clearly identify that the Gupta family was at the heart of the most corrupt attack on South Africa’s sovereignty since the advent of democracy. And it severely curbs their attempts to continue as if they have done nothing wrong."

"We call on other countries to follow suit and ensure there is no place for the Guptas to hide either themselves or their ill-gotten gains."

On Thursday the US implemented sanctions against brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, together with their business associate Salim Essa for their involvement in corruption.

Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the Guptas and Essa had "used their influence with politicians and parties to line their pockets with ill-gotten gains".

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

The South African Department of Justice, meanwhile, has confirmed that SA has approached seven countries for mutual legal assistance to have the Guptas extradited, as News24 reported on Friday. These are India, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Switzerland, Mauritius, Hong Kong and China.

Pityana said it was notable that the three Gupta brothers and Essa had been sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, a 2016 US law that allows the US to sanction foreigners accused of acts of significant corruption or serious human rights abuses.

"The Global Magnitsky Act highlights the fact that corruption undermines the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure and functioning societies, has a devastating impact on individuals, weakens democratic institutions, degrades the rule of law and undermines economic markets," Pityana said.

The business association, he added, hoped that further names related to the Gupta family would be added to the sanction list. 

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