Noose tightens around Guptas.
Durban – The noose tightened around the Gupta empire today after members of Hawks swooped on the controversial family’s compound in Saxonwold, Johannesburg – arresting at least two people for fraud, corruption and money laundering according to reports.
Heavily armed members of the police’s elite investigation unit launched the raid before the crack of dawn.
They are believed to be looking for documents and other material linked to a multi-agency probe into allegations of state capture, particularly the multimillion-rand Estina dairy project that saw millions of rands meant for black emerging farmers funnelled to the Guptas.
According to eNCA one of the Gupta brothers, and a business associate was arrested. Other Gupta family members were negotiating to have themselves over, the channel reported.
Those arrested on Wednesday were expected to appear in a Bloemfontein court on Thursday.
The Gupta brothers, Ajay, Atul and Rajesh also known as “Tony” are, along with their associates including president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane, allegedly at the very heart of state capture involving state-owned companies with the likes of Eskom, Transnet, Denel and Prasa.
The National Prosecuting Authority’s asset forfeiture and specialised commercial crime units are working with officials from the National Treasury, the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission and the Hawks.
Opposition parties welcomed the raid by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) at the Gupta compound in Saxonwold, Johannesburg. While the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)are united in their sentiments on the raid, they believe the “writing had been on the wall for some time”.
Glynnis Breytenbach, DA Shadow Minister, said the raid was long overdue.
“By now the Guptas have had plenty of time to move or destroy whatever they had. But this is a move in the right direction. This is a clear indication that the tide has turned. We are glad that the law enforcement agencies are doing their work. While we applaud them, it is our view that it is a little late,” she said.
Narend Singh, IFP MP, said the raids is something that should have taken place a long time ago.
“The time is appropriate and it will get to the bottom of matter relating to the president and other high ranking officials implicated in the state capture report. We are hopeful that justice will act swiftly,” Singh said
Specialised Commercial Crime Unit acting head Malini Govender told Independent Media last month that the team had received state capture dockets in March but prosecutors were then not yet in a position to present case files. “Over 20 people are working on the state capture investigation,” said Govender.
Motlalekhotso Molelle of the Asset Forfeiture Unit said the AFU had obtained preservation orders freezing assets worth R1.6bn belonging to Gupta-linked financial services and management consulting group Trillian Capital Partners and global management consulting firm McKinsey.
According to Molelle, 17 cases were being investigated, worth around R50bn.
Today’s raid comes just weeks after the Hawks raided the offices of Free State Premier – and current ANC Secretary General – Ace Magashule in relation to the state capture probe in particular into the Estina Vrede dairy farm project.
The Free State High Court ordered that the assets of the Guptas and those of senior politicians such as Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane – accrued through a multimillion-rand Estina dairy project in the Free State, be seized.
Zwane was was MEC for agriculture in the province at the time.
The dairy project which allegedly saw millions of rands meant to benefit emerging black farmers end up in the hands of Guptas and is believed to have paid for a lavish wedding at Sun City.
An application details how Atul Gupta personally benefited to the tune of R10m, while further stating “there was no justification for the payment of an amount payment of an amount of R14.5m to Oakbay Investments, as its core business is not agriculture.”