INTERNATIONAL probes by UK financial watchdogs and the FBI means the heat is on the controversial Gupta family, led by Atul and brothers Ajay and Rajesh – all of whom are at the centre of reports of state capture in South Africa. The allegations are wide-ranging, from the Guptas’ businesses receiving billions of rands in kickbacks to help secure contracts from parastatals, to benefiting generously from contracts with Eskom. Much evidence came to light when thousands of Gupta e-mails were leaked to investigative reporters, causing havoc at a number of firms, notably KPMG, McKinsey, SAP and Bell Pottinger – the latter ending bankrupt. Numerous banks have closed the firms’ accounts; Oakbay Resources & Energy was forced to delist from the JSE; and the Industrial Development Corporation has sued the firm to pay back a loan, accusing it of fraud. The High Court has ordered Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint the lead judge in a judicial inquiry into state capture, following former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report finding evidence that the Guptas used their relationship with President Jacob Zuma to influence tenders and even ministerial appointments. Both Zuma, who seems unlikely to remain as president until 2019, and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing. With Ramaphosa now in charge at the ANC, will the ruling party’s patience with the alleged captors run out?
LIFE OF ATUL
Born to a small-scale businessman father in India, Atul moved to Johannesburg in 1993 as a 23-year-old, where he opened a shoe shop in Killarney Mall. He later started Sahara Computers, which successfully built computers from imported parts and led to his many lucrative political connections, notably with the Zuma family.
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