DA set to lay criminal complaint against Guptas

The Democratic Alliance is expected to lay a criminal complaint against the Gupta family on Monday in Cape Town.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma and Atul Gupta at an event. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance (DA) is expected to lay a criminal complaint against the Gupta family on Monday in Cape Town.

The opposition party has also written to the UK-based Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) as well as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) to lodge formal complaints against Bell Pottinger on allegations that they promoted racial hatred in South Africa.

The DA’s David Maynier explains: “I will be laying charges against Atul Gupta, Ajay Gupta, Rajesh Gupta and others to prevent and combat corrupt activities.”

This comes after investigative journalists at AmaBhungane, a non-profit group that has a strong track record of exposing government corruption scandals, released more than 100,000 leaked emails and documents.

These show how the Gupta-owned companies allegedly unduly influence the awarding of government contracts.

Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane confirmed that she will conduct a preliminary investigation to determine the merits of some of the allegations published in the damning emails.

Her office confirmed that a large part of the probe will focus on alleged dodgy dealings at state-owned enterprises, including Eskom, Prasa and Transnet.

A number of senior government officials have been implicated, including newly appointed Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, Minerals Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and President Jacob Zuma.

According to the investigative report, the Guptas and their associates are accused of diverting billions of rand from Transnet’s purchase of locomotives to their offshore accounts.

While the president said that the emails need to be verified first, African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe says that four ANC leaders implicated in the so-called Gupta leaks have confirmed authenticity of the emails.

He’s praised them for owning up to this.

The Gupta brothers, Ajay, Atul and Rajesh, moved to South Africa from India at the end of apartheid in the early 1990s and built a business empire from technology to media and mining.

Last year, former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released her state capture report.

According to the report, the Gupta family played a key role in Cabinet appointments and made under-handed deals to pursue business interests.

Several businesses have since severed links with Oakbay, including auditors KPMG, investment bank Sasfin and all four major banks: Standard Bank, Barclays Africa, Nedbank and FirstRand.

At the weekend, the City Press reported the Venda Building Society Mutual Bank declined to do business with the Guptas.

VBS is the same bank that granted President Zuma a loan of R7.8 million so that he could repay the state for his portion of the bill for security upgrades to his Nkandla home, as ordered by Madonsela.

Two business accounts were terminated in January following talks by the bank's bosses, according to the report.
It's understood the bank sent a letter to Oakbay Investments which read: "Please be advised that VBS Mutual Bank, in line with our risk appetite framework, has declined your request for new accounts applied for and [your] continued relationship with the bank.”

It further added that Guptas’ accounts would remain open until May 22 after which their existing accounts would be deactivated.

The bank has apparently declined to add any more details, due to a "bank-client confidentiality clause".

Additional reporting by Clement Manyathela, Tara Penny & Reuters.

(Edited by Shimoney Rgeter)