Gupta family is a wealthy Indian-born South African family whose
most notable members are the brothers Ajay, Atul, Rajesh "Tony" Gupta
as well as Atul Gupta's nephews Varun, and US-based Ashish and
Gupta family owns a business empire spanning computer
equipment, media and mining, and has been the focus of widespread
scrutiny because of its close ties to
Jacob Zuma during his
In 2016 Atul Gupta became the seventh-wealthiest person in South
Africa, with an estimated net worth of R10.7 billion (US$773.47
million), based on JSE-listed holdings.
The family migrated from the Indian state of
Uttar Pradesh to South
Africa in 1993, shortly before the country's first democratic
elections, to establish Sahara Computers. The family is based at
the Sahara Estate in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, a compound comprising at
least four mansions and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The family's strong ties to former South African president Jacob Zuma,
both personally and through its company Oakbay Investments, have been
the subject of extensive international scrutiny and caused much
political controversy. The ties have led to
widespread claims of corruption, undue influence and of state capture
– a term which is used to allege that the government undertakes
activities and decisions, decides some high level appointments, and
determines control of some state enterprises, for the Gupta family's
direct or indirect benefit, or in agreement with the family. In
2015 the Guptas' influence on the presidency was described by
anti-corruption campaigner and former trades unionist Zwelinzima Vavi
as being a "shadow government". Multiple MPs and ministers have
stated that they were offered government positions by, or on behalf
of, the Gupta family, in return for beneficial commercial decisions
once appointed. In 2017 it was discovered that British
PR company Bell Pottinger, acting on behalf of Gupta-owned Oakbay
Investments, had deliberately manipulated and inflamed racial
tensions, stirred up racial hatred, and made accusations of "white
monopoly capital", using a large number of fake twitter and other
accounts online, as part of a campaign portraying Oakbay and those
connected to it as victims, apparently intended to deflect corruption
Bell Pottinger subsequently collapsed in the wake of
In October 2017, it was reported that the
FBI had opened an
investigation into Gupta nephews Ashish and Amol, who are US Citizens,
resident in Texas, as a result of payments received from a
Gupta-linked company in the United Arab Emirates. On 16
February 2018, two days after Zuma had stepped down as president of
South Africa, Ajay Gupta was declared a fugitive from justice by South
African authorities after failing to turn himself over to the
2 Relationship with Jacob Zuma
2.2 “Guptagate” wedding controversy
2.3 Influence over Cabinet appointments
2.4 Mining & Energy interests
2.4.1 Iron ore dispute
2.4.3 Uranium interests, Nhlanhla Nene,
Pravin Gordhan and KPMG
2.4.4 Power plants
2.5.1 SAP kickback allegations
Economic Freedom Fighters
Economic Freedom Fighters criticism
Sekunjalo Investments dispute
2.7.3 Public relations efforts and the
Bell Pottinger controversy
22.214.171.124 Fake News
2.8 Corporate response
2.9 Public response
3 Financial transactions
4 Sales of business units in August 2017
6 Further reading
The family owns a number of companies in different industries ranging
from energy to media publications. Their first venture into South
Africa was the establishment of Sahara Computers and Sahara Systems
In mining, their interests include Oakbay Resources and Energy:
Uranium and gold mining and processing company, the Shiva Uranium
Mine, Tegeta Exploration and Resources, Westdawn Investments
(Pty) Ltd t/a JIC Mining Services and Black Edge Exploration.
They have substantial media interests in South Africa through TNA
Media (Pty) Ltd, including The New Age, a national newspaper, and ANN7
(African News Network), a 24-hour news channel.
Other interests include VR Laser Services steel fabrication for
mining, engineering and armoured vehicle applications, Islandsite
Investment 180, Confident Concepts, and have links to the
passenger airline Jet Airways.
On 8 September 2016 Oakbay Investments released their annual audited
results. For the financial year ended 29 February 2016, the
company’s group revenue totaled R2.62 billion.
Relationship with Jacob Zuma
A protest placard depicting Atul Gupta carried by two EFF members on
either side of it at a
Zuma Must Fall
Zuma Must Fall protest in Cape Town. The slogan
"#Not My President" on the placard explicitly links Atul Gupta with
The Guptas and then vice-president Zuma first met at a function hosted
by the Guptas at Sahara Estate in 2003. Since then the family have
been involved in a number of events involving Zuma and his family. The
family is known to have been a supporter of Zuma during his power
struggle for leadership of the
African National Congress
African National Congress (ANC) with
Thabo Mbeki in 2005.
The family is known to have employed Zuma's wife Bongi Ngema-Zuma. One
of Zuma's sons,
Duduzane Zuma was a director in a number of Gupta
owned firms and one of his daughters, Duduzile Zuma, was made a
director of the Gupta owned Sahara computers shortly after Zuma's
election to the presidency in 2008. She has since resigned from that
Duduzane Zuma has also since resigned from all positions
held at Gupta owned businesses. Zuma's close relationship with the
family is a source of tension within Zuma's own party the ANC.
Likewise, Zuma denies granting undue influence to the family.
The Guptas' influence on the presidency has been described by the
former General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions
Zwelinzima Vavi as a "shadow government." Donwald Pressly of the
South African business publication Biznews has stated that comments
made by Deputy President
Cyril Ramaphosa about the state capture of
public enterprises by people with political connections was referring
to the close relationship between Zuma and the Gupta family. One
of South Africa's opposition parties, the Economic Freedom Fighters
(EFF), have stated that the Gupta's “have de facto colonised South
Africa, with Zuma being the chief colonial administrator”. The
Guptas have denied this allegation, saying they have never taken any
benefit from the relationship with Zuma. Zuma denies granting
undue influence to the family.
Prior to its national executive committee over the weekend of the
18–20 March 2016, spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the ANC was concerned
about "state capture". In March 2016 the ANC launched an
investigation into state capture and the Gupta family. In May ANC
Gwede Mantashe said it would be a “fruitless”
exercise for the party to continue to investigate allegations of state
capture against the
Gupta family as they had only received one written
submission on the matter. A spokesman for the ‘Hawks’ - a
serious crime investigative unit set up by the Zuma administration -
stated that reports that corruption charges filed against the three
ministers and the
Gupta family are ‘baseless’.
As part of the company’s annual results announcement in September
2016, Oakbay Investments stated that government contracts accounted
for 9% of the company’s sales.
Oakbay also stated that its largest mining company, JIC Mining
Services, has never had a government contract, while Sahara, the
second biggest contributor, has had no government contacts following a
deliberate decision taken by the board in 2008.
A reflection of the close relationship between the
Gupta family and
Jacob Zuma, particularly by both Zuma and the family's detractors, is
the term "Zupta" to refer to this relationship. The portmanteau
"Zupta", a combination of "Z" from "Zuma" and the "upta" from "Gupta",
was first coined by the
Economic Freedom Fighters
Economic Freedom Fighters at the 2016 South
African presidential state of the nation address when they disrupted
the event by repeatedly chanting "Zupta must fall" to express their
dissatisfaction with this relationship.
“Guptagate” wedding controversy
Waterkloof Air Force Base where the
Jet Airways plane landed in April
2013, sparking the Guptagate controversy.
On 30 April 2013, an Airbus A330-200 chartered aircraft run by Jet
Airways carrying 217 guests from India was cleared to land at the
South African Air Force base at Waterkloof for the wedding ceremony of
Vega Gupta to Aakash Jahajgarhia at Sun City, North West. This event
caused a significant controversy that led to the African National
Congress (ANC) and other political parties as well as the South
African National Defence Union to denounce this use of the air force
base. The ANC issued a statement calling for "those responsible for
giving the family permission to come into the country without going
through the normal channels be 'brought to book'".
In the aftermath of the event, India's High Commissioner Virendra
Gupta (not related to the Gupta family) said publicly that the Indian
High Commission was given permission to land the plane at Waterkloof
Air Force Base. He explained that the Commission communicated
through its defence adviser with the chief of defence for foreign
relations in the
SA National Defence Force
SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
The landing was cleared by Bruce Koloane who was chief of state
protocol at the department of international relations who insisted
that the flight was a “sensitive” official visit. Koloane was
demoted after an investigation concluded that he used Zuma's name to
illegally authorise the landing. President Zuma was scheduled to
attend the wedding but cancelled after the incident became public.
The family apologised for the incident stating that they applied for
special permission to land as a number of the guests were Indian
government ministers and that it was promoting tourism to South
Africa. The incident prompted a significant outcry, so much so that it
was dubbed "Guptagate" by the South African media.
In 2017, it was revealed that the wedding was paid for by funds,
laundered through Dubai, and granted to a Gupta-linked company by the
Free State Province
Free State Province government, purportedly as part of the Vrede Dairy
Project. In January 2018, the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the
National Prosecuting Authority seized R220 million that Free State
Department of Agriculture under
Mosebenzi Zwane had paid to the Gupta
family as part of this project, calling it a "scheme designed to
defraud and steal monies from the department". The Hawks unit of
South Africa's Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI)
raided the offices of Ace Magashule, the Premier of the Free State, in
connection with the project.
Influence over Cabinet appointments
In 2016, a series of allegations of the Guptas' influence over
appointments to the South African Cabinet came to the fore. Former ANC
MP Vytjie Mentor claimed that in 2010 the Guptas had offered her the
position of Minister of Public Enterprises, provided that she arranged
South African Airways
South African Airways to drop their India route, allowing a Gupta
linked company (Jet Airways) to take on the route. She said
she declined the offer, which occurred at the Guptas' Saxonwold
residence, while President Zuma was in another room. This came a few
days before a cabinet reshuffle in which minister
Barbara Hogan was
dismissed by Zuma. The
Gupta family denied that the meeting took place
and denied offering Vytijie a ministerial position. President Zuma
claimed that he had no recollection of Vytjie Mentor.
Deputy Finance Minister
Mcebisi Jonas confirmed media reports that he
had been offered the ministerial position by the Guptas shortly before
the disastrous dismissal of Finance Minister
Nhlanhla Nene in December
2015, but had rejected the offer out of hand as "it makes a mockery of
our hard-earned democracy‚ the trust of our people and no one apart
from the President of the Republic appoints ministers". The Gupta
family denied offering Jonas the job of Finance Minister.
The Sunday Times has reported that the Minister of Mineral Resources,
Mosebenzi Zwane, and then Minister of Co-operative Governance and
David van Rooyen (who was controversially
appointed by President Zuma as Minister of Finance in December 2015)
met with members of the
Gupta family in Dubai. Van Rooyen allegedly
met with them only a few days after his unsuccessful appointment to be
Minister of Finance on the 20 December 2015. Minister Zwane assisted
in the sale of a large coal mine to a Gupta owned company.
Former bodyguards of the
Gupta family have stated that they often saw
important government officials, such as
Hlaudi Motsoeneng the COO of
the state broadcaster the SABC, and large amounts of money in cash
moving out of the Gupta's
Saxonwold estate. The bodyguards also stated
that Ajay Gupta would visit President Zuma up to three times a week
until 2015 at the presidential guest house in Pretoria. A spokesperson
for president Zuma denies that the visits ever happened.
Ranjeni Munusamy of the
Daily Maverick has stated the "Gupta family
has effectively usurped the function of the ANC deployment
committee" thereby undermining the party's ability to
independently and legitimately select senior ministers and executives
in government and state owned companies.
The Gupta's alleged influence was the subject of an investigation into
"state capture" by outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
President Zuma and Minister Des van Rooyen applied for an interdict to
prevent the publication of the report on 14 October 2016, Madonsela's
last day in office. Van Rooyen's application was dismissed, and
the President withdrew his application, leading to the release of the
report on 2 November. The report recommends the establishment of a
judicial commission of enquiry into the issues identified.
The report recommends that a full probe of Mr. Zuma's dealings with
the Guptas should be conducted by a commission of inquiry, with the
findings published within 180 days. Zuma and Des van Rooyen have since
denied any wrongdoing.
The Gupta's lawyer disputed the evidence in the report. The
Gupta family have denied any wrongdoing and welcomed the opportunity
to challenge the report’s findings in an official judiciary
On 25 November 2016, Zuma announced that the Presidency would be
reviewing the contents of the state capture report. He said it
"was done in a funny way" with "no fairness at all" and argued he was
not given enough time to respond to the public protector.
In late May 2017 a number of emails were leaked to the public from the
Guptas and their associates implicating them in efforts to appoint
government ministers and heads of government owned companies in
addition to coordinating activities with political figures associated
with President Zuma for their own personal gain. Most notable were
efforts to appoint Gupta friendly executives for Transnet, Eskom, the
Mosebenzi Zwane as minister of mineral
resources. The ANC Youth League and the pro-Gupta
Black First Land First
Black First Land First (BLF) disputed the authenticity
of the emails whilst the Communist Party of South Africa stated that
the emails "look genuine".
Mining & Energy interests
Oakbay Resources & Energy, is a mining and processing company, run
by the Gupta family. It supplies minerals and mineral products,
such as gold, uranium, platinum, coal and diamonds and also conducts
trackless/mechanised mining, track bound mining, breast mining,
down-dip mining and open-pit gold operation. Oakbay Resources
& Energy began trading on the JSE on 28 November 2014.
Iron ore dispute
In 2010 the Gupta owned firm, Imperial Crown Trading (ICT), along with
Duduzane Zuma who was a part owner in ICT were involved in a dispute
Anglo American plc
Anglo American plc over the rightful ownership
of Kumba Iron Ore, which owns Sishen mine, one of Africa's largest
iron mines. The Department of Mineral Resources granted the ICT 21.4%
ownership in the mine when
ArcelorMittal did not renew their mining
licence in time. The case was taken to the Constitutional Court where,
in 2013, it was ruled that the Gupta/Zuma consortium could not claim
rightful ownership. Had they won the case
ArcelorMittal would have had
to pay them R800 million (US$80 million).
Eskom § Corruption_scandal
The South African Sunday Times alleged that a Gupta owned company,
Tegeta, benefited from official connections in the awarding of a R4
billion contract to supply coal to the state electrical utility
company Eskom. The Mines Minister
Mosebenzi Zwane denied this
allegation saying that he didn’t give Tegeta any preferential
treatment and was only interested in preserving jobs following
Tegeta’s purchase of a coal mine that supplies Eskom. According
to the business rescue practitioners Tegeta will also take on the R2.4
billion penalty imposed by
Eskom on Optimum for delivering
poor-quality coal. On the 12th June, City Press alleged that Eskom
awarded Tegeta a contract worth more than R564 million, paying in
advance in order to ‘bail out the Guptas’ and that it also allowed
the company to divert a significant portion of Optimum’s coal to
another power station in order to be bought at a higher price. An
Eskom said that paying companies in advance has been
done before and that
Eskom was not diverting coal from the Hendrina
power plant to the Arnot power plant. Nazeem Howa described
allegations as “sublime and ridiculous” and that prepayments were
a standard practice of Eskom.
On 8 September 2016, Nazeem Howa told Bloomberg that Oakbay
Investments had signed a contract to export power-plant coal at a
premium to the highest price it gets from
Eskom of R150 ($11) per ton.
He declined to comment on whether its export allocation was being
Uranium interests, Nhlanhla Nene,
Pravin Gordhan and KPMG
Jacob Zuma § Dismissal of Nhlanhla Nene, and KPMG
§ 2017 South African corruption scandal
The family is alleged by the
Rand Daily Mail
Rand Daily Mail to have worked closely
with Zuma to secure interests in South Africa's nuclear energy
sector. In 2014 the South African government announced that a 9
600 MW nuclear procurement programme that entailed the construction of
six to eight nuclear reactors at an estimated cost of between R800
billion to R1.6 trillion (US$50-billion to US$100 billion) was under
consideration. This proposal was approved by the Zuma cabinet on the 9
December 2015. Zuma's controversial dismissal of then minister of
Nhlanhla Nene on the 9 December 2015 is alleged to have been
partially motivated by Nene's department's resistance to the nuclear
agreement. President Zuma stated that this move was motivated by
Nene's nomination to head the African Regional Centre of the New
Development Bank/Brics Bank. Zuma's statement was met with
skepticism by the media and opposition political parties, partly
because Nene was unaware of his nomination to the
Nene was briefly replaced with the little known David van Rooyen
before public criticism, and a sharp decline in the currency, and the
stock market lead to Zuma re-appointing former minister of finance
Pravin Gordhan to the position instead. Strong links between both of
Van Rooyen's top two advisers and the
Gupta family came to light a few
months after Nene's dismissal. Shortly after Gordhan's
appointment an investigation was initiated by the Hawks into
allegations of corruption whilst he was head of the South African
Revenue Service. The investigation was criticised on legal grounds
and for being politically motivated by a number of organisations and
individuals including the South
African Communist Party. Gordhan
stated that the
Gupta family was behind the charges. The Gupta family
denied being involved in any effort to remove Gordhan from office,
 however, in 2017, much of Gupta auditor KPMG’s senior
leadership in South Africa resigned, and a report, issued by
2015, accusing Gordhan of improprieties was withdrawn, after an
internal investigation found that the work done by
KPMG for Gupta
family fell “considerably short” of the firm’s standards, and
amid a rising political and public backlash. 
Gupta family was implicated in the alleged improper awarding of a
contract to install a new boiler at the
Duvha Power Station
Duvha Power Station to
Dongfang Electric after the Gupta connected advisory firm Trillian
gave the Dongfang bid the go ahead.
General Electric filed court
papers stating that Dongfang was given the contract through a rigged
tendering process by
Eskom even though the Dongfang bid was R1 billion
(US$76 million) more than the
General Electric bid.
Gupta family along with
Duduzane Zuma have been implicated in an
attempt to improperly influence the awarding of a R51 billion (roughly
equivalent to US$6 billion in 2012) contract to deliver 600 trains to
South Africa on behalf of the China South Rail company. In 2012 the
former head of the South African Passenger Rail Agency (Prasa), Lucky
Montana, wrote a letter detailing an attempt by the Guptas and Zuma to
pressure then South African minister of transport, Ben Martins, and
Montana, Prasa’s then CEO, to favour China South Rail. The letter
became public in June 2016 when Montana sent a copy to the amaBhungane
Centre for Investigative Journalism.
SAP kickback allegations
SAP SE § South African allegations
In July 2017, SAP was accused of having paid CAD House, a
Gupta-controlled company, R100 million in order to secure a Transnet
deal in 2015. SAP denied the allegations, claiming that the money was
paid as "an extension of the sales force", despite CAD House having no
prior SAP experience. As a consequence of the allegations,
SAP suspended some managers, and launched an investigation
appointing an acting managing director for Africa while the
VR Laser Services, in which the Guptas and Duduzane Zuma, President
Zuma's son, own a 25% stake, entered into a partnership with the state
owned aerospace and defence company
Denel to establish
based in Hong Kong. The official opposition, Democratic Alliance have
alleged that the establishment of the joint venture is illegal as
certain provisions of the Public Finance Management Act have not been
complied with. The Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown,
confirmed that the Asian marketing arm of
Denel was not in compliance
with various legal provisions.
The international news broadcaster
Al Jazeera English
Al Jazeera English has alleged that
Zuma's close relationship with the Guptas has "translated into
friendly coverage in the outlets they own," specifically
the New Age.
Economic Freedom Fighters
Economic Freedom Fighters criticism
On 4 February 2016
Julius Malema of the Economic Freedom Fighters
(EFF) announced that members of the press from Gupta owned media
ANN7 and The New Age, would no longer be welcome at future
EFF media announcements. The EFF alleged that this was because of
their role as being part of a "propaganda machinery" of a "corrupt
cartel". He stated that the EFF "cannot guarantee the safety of those
who are working in those studios and printing factories of the New Age
and ANN7." The EFF criticised the "New Age Breakfasts", a
series of breakfast events organised by The New Age with and often
paid for by government departments, as well as accused the paper of
receiving preferential treatment in receiving advertising contracts
from government. A spokesperson for the African National Congress
defended the Gupta family, stressing their history of investment in
South Africa. A few days later the EFF released a list of 25
reasons why they are against the family, again accusing them of
receiving preferential treatment in business dealings with government
as well as government preference and collusion with Gupta owned media
The EFF's perceived threats towards
ANN7 and New Age employees caused
a number of other media commentators and publications to criticise
Malema's remarks as threatening media independence and advocating
violence towards the media and a particularly strong rebuke from the
New Age and ANN7. An anti-gag order disallowing the EFF from
banning The New Age and
ANN7 from EFF media briefings was issued by
the High Court following Malema's remarks. The court also upheld
the applicants’ rights and those of the
Gupta family as South
African citizens to remain in South Africa and carry out business
operations. The judge presiding over the case concluded that
Malema’s statement was a “threat of violence” and said the
Guptas and their employees “have a constitutionally protected right
not to be threatened with violence”.
Sekunjalo Investments dispute
In November 2012, the Gupta family, through Oakbay, were granted an
option to buy 50% of the shares of Independent News and Media South
Africa, one of the largest newspaper operations in South Africa, after
the company had been bought out by
Sekunjalo Investments who was
negotiating the purchase of the group from the Irish owned Independent
News and Media. After the successful purchase of the group by
Sekunjalo in February 2013 Oakbay sought to exercise its share
purchase options. This led to disagreements between Oakbay and
Sekunjalo about the true value and cost of the options and so they
could not settle on an agreement as to how much Oakbay should pay for
the shares. Ten percent of buyout by Sekunjalo was also funded by the
South African Government Employees Pension Fund who had never agreed
to Oakbay having the options and, when asked in early 2016, rejected
Oakbay's request to exercise the option to buy 50% of the now
Sekunjalo owned newspaper publishing company. This led to Oakbay
taking Sekunjalo to court.
Public relations efforts and the
Bell Pottinger controversy
See also: Bell Pottinger
"[T]he NEC expressed its utmost disgust at the arrogance, disrespect
and reckless journalism displayed by the New Age Newspaper (18, 19
ANN7 News Channel (16–18 March 2016) and
representatives of the Gupta-family. They have characterized the ANC
as a group of factions for and against President Zuma." - Gwede
Mantashe, ANC secretary general
To deal with mounting public criticism the
Gupta family hired the
public relations firm Bell Pottinger. In late February 2016
several internet-based sources were altered to be favourable to the
Guptas. These included activities in, chat rooms, blogs and
on news articles related to the Gupta family. It is thought by
Mail and Guardian
Mail and Guardian that these favourable alterations were part of a
sustained media campaign to improve the family's image.
After emails from servers associated with Gupta newspapers were
Bell Pottinger was reported to be involved in substantial
editing of this page about the Guptas; a Bell Pottinger
employee was said to have emailed much of the content to a Gupta
account for it to be uploaded.
In a statement to the
Financial Times on 25 November 2016, Bell
Pottinger stated that their role has been “to correct
misperceptions” about Oakbay. They have intended to communicate that
a competitive, disruptive, job-creating narrative is what is needed to
achieve transformation in South Africa.
Gupta owned media outlets,
ANN7 and The New Age, ran stories alleging
an anti-Zuma plot by a faction within the ANC was one possible source
of allegations against the Gupta family. Following the ANC's
national executive council meeting in March 2016 the ANC's secretary
general issued a statement criticising the coverage of the event by
Gupta family owned media. In response
ANN7 and The New Age agreed
to publish an official apology to the ANC.
Bell Pottinger announced they had dropped the
Gupta family as
clients on 12 April 2017 . This followed a Sunday Times
article that claimed that the
Gupta family and President Zuma worked
with the firm to incite racial tensions using bots and sockpuppets on
social media in an effort to manipulate public opinion. Leaked
emails allegedly from the Guptas suggested that the family planned to
deal with negative publicity by buying newspapers critical of the
family such as Mail & Guardian.
Bell Pottinger went into administration (bankruptcy) in September
2017, as a consequence of the scandal resulting from activities
undertaken by the firm on behalf of the Guptas, particularly its role
in inflaming racial tension in South Africa.
Media interests owned by Gupta were blamed by other South African
media organisations and civil society organisations for running fake
news campaigns against a number of individuals and groups judged
hostile to Gupta interests. Targets included The Huffington Post,
Sunday Times, Radio 702, and City Press in addition to individuals
such as Finance Minister
Pravin Gordhan who was seen as blocking Gupta
attempts at state capture. Attacks against Gordhan focused
on accusations of him promoting state capture for "white monopoly
Due to the controversial nature of the family's relationship with
Jacob Zuma numerous South African and international banking and
auditing firms decided to end their business dealings with Gupta-owned
firms in early April 2016. The auditing firm KPMG, the brokerage
Sasfin Bank, and
Barclays Africa’s Absa bank as well as First
National Bank all announced that they would no longer be dealing with
the Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments, the holding company for the
family's investments. Johan van Dyk at the South
African financial forensics firm Censeo stated that companies were
disassociating with the family due to concerns that an association
with the family could cost them customers.
In response the Gupta-owned Oakbay alleged that this is "clear proof
that the recent allegations against the company and the wider Gupta
family are all part of a carefully orchestrated political
campaign". Oakbay executives publicly repeated the accusation and
went on to accuse South African businessman Johan Rupert of being
involved in a conspiracy against them. Oakbay stated that Rupert,
through the Rupert-owned Remgro investment company, had interests in
the country's financial institutions and that this allowed him to
influence banks so that they would stop doing business with Oakbay.
Although Remgro had a 3.3% share ownership in FirstRand it did not
have any investments or ownership in any of the other financial
institutions Oakbay accused it of having.
On 8 April 2016, Duduzane Zuma, Atul Gupta, and Varun Gupta announced
that they would be stepping down from their director positions at
Oakbay Resources and Energy in response to mounting pressure.
Oakbay stated that it had become nearly impossible to conduct business
due to the business community's decision to discontinue doing business
with the controversial firm. A few days later, Ajay and Atul
Gupta along with other members of the family were reported to have
left South Africa for Dubai.
Julius Malema of the EFF, claimed
that president Zuma illegally took out R6 billion (US$400 million) of
the Gupta's money for them from South Africa when he visited the
United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates in March 2016.
The trade union and ANC political ally COSATU criticised the move by
South African financial institutions to refuse to do business with
Oakbay on the grounds that it was "political posturing" and put the
jobs of thousands of South African employees of the firm at risk.
On the 20th June it was reported that the
Gupta family were back in
South Africa after an extended time away from the country.
On 8 September 2016, after announcing their annual results, Nazeem
Reuters that the company was intending to urge the four
banks that ended their relationships with the company to reopen their
accounts. Howa was also quoted as stating that a judicial
commission of enquiry into the banks would be the “best way” to
shed light on the reasoning behind their decision to close the
accounts with Oakbay.
Notable ANC members
Ahmed Kathrada and
Derek Hanekom called on the ANC
to address public concerns relating to Zuma's relationship with the
Gupta family. Prior to criticising financial institutions for
refusing to do business with Oakbay the trade union COSATU called for
president Zuma to distance himself from the Gupta family.
Following Kathrada's death in March 2017, Zuma was not invited to his
funeral at Kathradas family's request due to Zuma's controversial
relationship with the Gupta family, and former president Kgalema
Motlanthe read an open letter that Kathrada had published a year
before his death calling on Zuma to resign.
A hacktivist group claiming to be associated with the African chapter
of Anonymous launched a number of Distributed Denial of Service
attacks on websites associated with the
Gupta family in mid-June 2016.
Gupta owned companies targeted included the websites of Oakbay
Investments, Oakbay Resources and Energy, The New Age, IT firm Sahara,
The South African artist
Ayanda Mabulu exhibited a controversial
painting criticizing president Zuma's controversial and close
relationship with the Guptas. The painting portrayed president Zuma
performing an act of anilingus on Atul Gupta in the cockpit of an
airplane against a backdrop of the ANC flag.
President Zuma's relationship with the family became a campaign issue
that negatively affected the ANC's performance in the 2016 South
African municipal elections.
Following the dismissal of Gordan as Minister of Finance in April 2017
anti-Zuma protests were held across South Africa including in front of
Gupta family estate in Johannesburg.
Gupta family § Corporate response
In October 2016, the South African Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan
stated in court documents that the Guptas were implicated in
"suspicious transactions worth R6.8 billion". The court documents
were filed as part of a high court application explaining why the
Minister of Finance could not intervene on the Gupta's behalf to
require that South African banks continue to provide services to
Gupta-owned companies. The documents stated that South African banks
were alarmed by the financial dealings of 14 Gupta-owned businesses
and discontinued services to the family to avoid possible legal
The Gupta's lawyers publicly disputed Gordhan's statement and stated
that a number of errors were made including that a number of the
disputed transactions regarding one of the financial dealings, the
Optimum mine, occurred when the mine was not yet under the control of
the family. On 18 August 2017, the North Gauteng High Court
dismissed Gordhan’s court application seeking declaratory relief
from having to intervene with the banks' decisions to close the bank
accounts of the Oakbay investments.
An investigation by the South African-based amaBhungane Centre for
Investigative Journalism alleges that the Guptas benefited from a
number of state contracts using their political connections through a
sophisticated system of financial dealings totalling up to R144
million (US$10.6 million) in only one six-month period.
A report compiled by the
South African Council of Churches and South
African academics stated that R40 billion (equivalent to US$3 billion)
was illegally smuggled out of South Africa to
Dubai by the Gupta
family and their associated companies between 2011/12 and 2017. The
money having allegedly originated from South African parastatials such
as South African Airways,
Eskom and Transnet.
Gupta family has filed an interdict against its last remaining
bank in South Africa, the Bank of Baroda, to prevent it from closing
their accounts at the bank. The
Bank of Baroda
Bank of Baroda did this after
flagging 36 suspicious transactions on Gupta linked accounts over a
ten month period valued at R4.2bn and amid accusations of the bank
helping the family launder money. By September 2017 a total of
two international and four South African banks had closed Gupta linked
accounts they had held due to suspicious transactions.
Sales of business units in August 2017
On 21 August 2017, Oakbay announced the sale of both of its media
ANN7 (Infinity Media) and The New Age (TNA Media) to a firm
named Lodidox, owned by Mzwanele Manyi. Per the company's statement,
Oakbay would sell its shareholding in Infinity Media (
ANN7 TV news)
for R300-million and its two-thirds stake in TNA Media (The New Age)
for R150-million. The sale was vendor financed which entailed the
lending of R450 million in shares to the Manyi owned Lodidox by the
Gupta owned Oakbay so that the business sale could take place.
The EFF criticised the deal by stating that it was a form of fronting
to disguise continued Gupta ownership.
On 23 August 2017, Oakbay has also announced the sale of Tegeta
Exploration and Resources business to Swiss-based Charles King SA for
R2.97-billion. Oakbay has stipulated that the purchaser safeguards the
employment in the mines along with having a minimum of 30% of the
shares allocated to a Black Empowerment Partner.
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Myburgh, Pieter-Louis (2017). The Republic of Gupta. Penguin Books
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Pauw, Jacques (2017). The President's Keepers. NB Publishers.
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