Justice Raymond Zondo heads the commission of Inquiry into State Capture. PHOTO: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg - The state capture inquiry has heard how US authorities were conducting an investigation in connection with the #Guptaleaks emails and had asked to have access to the electronic hard drive containing the emails.  

Lawyer Brian Currin, who was giving evidence at the inquiry on Thursday in relation to the Gupta emails, said he had been contacted by US authorities in February this year asking to have access to the emails. 

Currin had earlier told the inquiry of how he was introduced to a whistleblower anonymously known as "Stan" who had access to the thousands of leaked emails belonging to the Gupta family. 

Stan had informed Currin that the emails heavily implicated the Gupta family in corrupt dealings involving former president Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane and certain cabinet ministers and CEOs of state-owned enterprises. 

The thousands of emails were widely known as the #Guptaleaks after they were leaked to the media in early 2017 and reported on by various media organisations. 

Currin was later given the original hard drive containing the emails and a clone copy of the drive which he kept safe. He said he was approached by US authorities who told him they knew about the emails and that they also knew about "Stan". 

"When I met with them, they knew my name and my role and said they knew about one of the whistleblowers, Stan, and they said they did not know his true identity. The adviced me that they were doing an investigation of an international nature and that they would like to meet with Stan and also to have access to the evidence," said Currin.  

"I contacted Stan and he was absolutely adamant that the evidence could not be available to them at least not now. And he had no issue meeting and was willing to meet with them," he said. 

Later Currin and Stan met with the US authorities and told them they could have access to the cloned drive but at a later date and in a different country where the cloning could take place. 

Currin said he and Stan had agreed from the very beginning that the process into leading an investigation linked to the Gupta emails had to be led by South Africa and not foreign agencies. 

"Since we agreed to make available the evidence, we had SA in our minds. The American told us that they had the best equipment and that they could make an image of the forensic copy that we had. Stan and John were adamant from the onset that this should always be seen to be South African process driven by South Africans in the interest of SA, not a foreign mission," said Currin. 

Currin said in the final meeting in Kenya in April 2018, officials from inquiry were present along with the US authorities and Stan and the second whistleblower John. 

US authorities were permitted to make a copy of the cloned hard drive, but not the original. 

The original hard drive and the cloned copy were later returned to SA and they were kept under the protection of the commission's legal team. 

Currin was giving evidence in support for the admission of the hard drives containing leaked emails belonging to the Gupta family. The application to admit the evidence has been brought by the commission's legal team. 

The commission's legal team spent time convincing inquiry chair deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo to admit the evidence. The legal team will continue with arguments on Friday. 

IOL