Guptas, Salim Essa cannot do business with us, says US government

U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has sanctioned the Gupta brothers and Salim Essa for "their involvement in corruption in South Africa".

FILE: President Jacob Zuma and Atul Gupta at a New Age business breakfast in Port Elizabeth on 16 March 2012. Picture: The Presidency

The US Treasury department's Foreign Assets Control office on Thursday prohibited members of the Gupta family and a business associate from doing business with the US or any US nationals.

The US Treasury announced that it has sanctioned Rajesh Gupta, Atul Gupta, Ajay Gupta and Salim Essa for their alleged involvement in corruption in South Africa.

This falls under an executive order issued in the United States.

They have been cited for over payments on government contracts, bribery, and other corruption claims to fund political contributions and influence government actions.

The US said Thursday's sanctions demonstrated the country's unwavering commitment to supporting the rule of law and accountability in South Africa.

The US government has also prohibited members of the Gupta family and associates from travelling to the US.

Acting US Ambassador to South Africa David Young: "The United States today imposed financial sanctions and travel restrictions on the three Gupta brothers and Salim Essa. What this means practically [is that] the four individuals are prohibited from travelling to the United States, the United States government can now seize any of their property that's held in the United States."

Through a statement on Thursday, the department said the US government made the decision in line with the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

“The Gupta family leveraged its political connections to engage in widespread corruption and bribery, capture government contracts, and misappropriate state assets. Treasury’s designation targets the Guptas’ pay-to-play political patronage, which was orchestrated at the expense of the South African people,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “The Guptas and Essa have used their influence with prominent politicians and parties to line their pockets with ill-gotten gains. We will continue to exclude from the U.S. financial system those who profit from corruption.”

The US department also called their dealings in South Africa "a significant corruption network".

The Guptas have been implicated in various allegations of corruption, along with former president Jacob Zuma. Relations between the family and Zuma has been the focal point of much of the Inquiry into State Capture, currently being chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

The US Department of the Treasury has designated 118 individuals and entities under the act since it was signed in 2017.