Smurfing & a Sun City wedding: Zondo hears how Guptas allegedly laundered money

A researcher testified at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture how the Guptas used a method known as smurfing to launder money.

Hawks and SAPS officials at the Gupta compound in Saxonwold, Johannesburg during a raid on 14 February 2018. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The state capture commission on Thursday heard how the Guptas used various methods of money laundering, including one named after the Smurfs, to funnel money from the Free State to offshore entities and fund their lavish wedding in 2013.

Researcher at Shadow World Investigations in London, Paul Holden, detailed transactions including flows to the Gupta wedding.

ALSO READ: 'Firms such as Estina paid millions of dollars to Gupta offshore companies'

But Holden said Estina was being used for money laundering a year before the Vrede Dairy Farm agreement was signed.

“Chair, I’m not sure if you are aware of the television programme The Smurfs?” Holden asked Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Zondo said in response: “No I’m not.”

“The Smurfs are very small blue men and smurfing refers to the fact that they are taking a large amount of money, either in reducing it into paying it out in a serious of much smaller transactions,” Holden said.

He said companies including Estina paid millions of dollars to Gupta offshore companies, which paid other companies including Linkway that paid for the lavish Sun City wedding using so-called smurfing.

“It says transfer from Free State agriculture and then R30 million goes into Estina’s account. And then what you can see following is payments that are made out of the account into the Bank of Baroda account of multiple R5 million payments,” Holden said.

Holden said in other cases the Guptas opened fixed deposit accounts with Estina payments, and borrowed millions of dollars with the deposits as security.

WATCH: State capture commission proceedings

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