Rajesh Gupta must be charged for offering bribe that Mcebisi Jonas refused - state capture report

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Former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas.
Former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas.
Thulani Mbele/Gallo Images
  • The NPA should launch criminal prosecutions against Rajesh Gupta for offering a bribe to Mcebisi Jonas.
  • Jonas told the State Capture Commission he was offered R600 million to take on the position of finance minister and work with the Gupta family.
  • The bribe is one of the key attempts to capture National Treasury, the state capture report says.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) must consider instituting criminal charges against Rajesh Gupta for offering a bribe to former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, the state capture report recommends.

Part four of the report, released on Friday, deals with the attempted capture of National Treasury.

The inquiry had looked into various attempts by former president Jacob Zuma and others such as former minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and former South African Airways (SAA) board chairperson Dudu Myeni, to try to get Treasury to approve transactions that were not in the interests of the country or financially affordable.

However, National Treasury, under the leadership of former finance ministers Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan, resisted these attempts. Among the transactions that were refused include the nuclear deal, the Denel Asia venture, a PetroSA transaction and SAA transactions with Airbus, and a route to Khartoum in Sudan.

Gordhan and Nene, however, both faced hostility from some members of Cabinet over Treasury's hard stance.

Among the key attempts to capture National Treasury was a bribe offered to Jonas to take on the position of finance minister and work with the Gupta family. Jonas turned down the R600 million bribe.

"It is recommended that the National Prosecuting Authority should give consideration to instituting criminal prosecutions against Mr Rajesh Tony Gupta for bribery/corruption arising out of his conduct in offering Mr Mcebisi Jonas millions of rands if he agreed to be minister of finance and to work with the Gupta family."
- State capture report

Jonas told the commission of a meeting with former president Jacob Zuma's son, Duduzane, at the Gupta family's residence in Saxonwold on 23 October 2015 - Nene was finance minister at the time. At this meeting, Jonas was offered the bribe by a "Gupta brother". The commission has established that the brother in question is Rajesh Gupta.

READ | Mcebisi Jonas: Don't assume good leadership will last long, State Capture 2.0 is a real risk

Jonas said that at the meeting, he was told that the Gupta family had gathered a lot of information about him that could be used against him. Jonas was also threatened to keep quiet about the meeting, otherwise the Guptas would have the means to destroy his political career. His life was also threatened, if he spoke out about the meeting. 

Rajesh Gupta had told Jonas that Zuma intended to fire Nene because he was not cooperating with the family. Jonas also learnt that Zuma intended to appoint him as finance minister. But Jonas said that he was not interested in the position. Rajesh Gupta, however, "ignored" Jonas and said that if Jonas worked with them, he could become "very rich".

"Mr Jonas testified that Mr Gupta then told him that he could immediately offer him R600 million."
- State capture report

According to Jonas, Rajesh Gupta pointed to Duduzane Zuma and said that the family had made the president's son a billionaire and bought him a house in Dubai.

Rajesh Gupta also shared that the family worked with others such as former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown and former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe. Jonas was told these people were "protected" and he would also be "safe" if he agreed to work with the family.

Stumbling block

Jonas was also told that the Gupta family earned R6 billion from the fiscus through various state-owned entities like Eskom, Transnet and other government departments.

"The Gupta brother said, according to Mr Jonas, that they wanted to increase that amount to R8 billion and they thought that Mr Jonas could be helpful in this regard."
- State capture report

According to Jonas, the Guptas saw Treasury as a "stumbling block" to their growth and they wanted to "clean up Treasury". As finance minister, Jonas would have to remove certain Treasury officials, including director-general Lungisa Fuzile and deputy director-general Andrew Donaldson, chief procurement officer Kenneth Brown, and head of tax and financial sector policy Ismail Momoniat. The Guptas were ready to deploy replacements at Treasury and would also provide Jonas with advisors. 

As Jonas was leaving the meeting, Rajesh Gupta wanted to show he was serious about the R600 million offer and wanted to give Jonas R600 000 in cash, on the spot. According to Jonas, Rajesh Gupta repeated threats that the family had information on him and would "kill" him if he spoke about the meeting.

A distressed Jonas met with Gordhan two days later. According to Gordhan's testimony to the commission, he dissuaded Jonas from resigning as this would not be in the best interests of the country.

Just under two months later, Nene was sacked as finance minister, with ramifications for financial markets.

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