The US Department of Treasury says sanctions against the Gupta family and its associates could have wide-ranging financial implications for the family’s financial dealings in the US and internationally.
The US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced on Thursday that it had issued wide-ranging sanctions against Atul, Rajesh, Ajay Gupta and their business associate Salim Essa.
The Gupta family, who former president Jacob Zuma has admitted to being friends with, have taken the centre stage of South Africa’s state capture scandal. The family is believed to have made millions of rands from corrupt government deals and were allegedly granted access to making government appointments.
The extent of the family’s corrupt dealings is currently the subject of a commission of inquiry looking into the capturing of the state.
The sanctions mean the Guptas can no longer do business freely in the US and their travel has been limited.
Sigal Mandelker, the under Secretary of the United States Treasury for Tourism and Financial Intelligence, said sanctions have in past proven effective even internationally as several companies were unwilling to business with sanctioned entities.
She said going after financial facilities, such as those operated by the Guptas, has an impact as it cuts off assets and shows there are costs to pay in engaging in such behaviour.
Mandelker declined to comment when asked whether the US was also considering sanctions against South African government officials that were complicit in corruption along the with Gupta family.
She also declined to comment on which of the Gupta assets would be impacted by the sanctions.
“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals named above, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50% or more by them, individually, or with other designated persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC,” said the statement issued by the US Treasury on Thursday..
“Today’s sanctions announcement demonstrates the U.S. government’s unwavering commitment to supporting the rule of law and accountability in South Africa. We support the anti-corruption efforts of South Africa’s independent judiciary, law enforcement agencies, and the ongoing judicial commissions of inquiry.”
The Guptas and Zuma, who has been accused of allowing the family leverage over his presidential powers, have long denied any corrupt dealings.
The family fled South Africa as the National Prosecuting Authority and the Hawks began building a case against the family's corrupt dealings.