Cape Town – Following the arrest of two Gupta brothers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), here’s what South Africans need to know about the fugitives who fled South Africa in 2016.
On Monday night, South Africa’s Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola’s spokesperson Chrispin Phiri announced the arrest of Rajesh and Atul in the UAE with discussions under way between the various law enforcement agencies in the UAE and South Africa on the way forward.
“The Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services confirms that it has received information from law enforcement authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that fugitives of justice, namely, Rajesh and Atul Gupta, have been arrested,” said the ministry.
WHO ARE THE GUPTAS?
The powerful Gupta family were one of South Africa’s wealthiest families who arrived in South Africa in 1993, a year before Nelson Mandela became president after winning the country’s first democratic elections.
Led by Atul, brothers Rajesh and Ajay relocated from India as the country opened up to foreign investment and built their empire from a small-scale computer business before moving into gold and coal mining, engineering, technology as well as a newspaper and 24-hour news broadcast company.
According to the BBC, family spokesperson Haranath Ghosh said their father sent them to South Africa with the belief that Africa would become the “America of the world”.
During their rise in South Africa, the Gupta brothers developed close links with Jacob Zuma and the ANC before Zuma had stepped up to become president in 2009.
WHY WERE THEY ARRESTED?
The family had fled South Africa following allegations of profiting from lucrative government contracts due to their relationship with former president Zuma.
The arrests come as State Capture Commission of Inquiry chairperson Raymond Zondo is expected to submit the last instalment of his report. According to the first part of Zondo’s report, state-owned enterprises under Zuma’s administration unlawfully spent R240 million from the state to benefit Gupta businesses.
The government central communications agency, GCIS, used R34 million with “The New Age”, a daily newspaper that was owned by the Gupta family, while Eskom contributed close to R60 million, and Transnet gave over R147 million, according to the report.
A statement by the Dubai police following the arrest said they acted after receiving an Interpol “red notice”, with the family also facing accusations of money laundering in India.