SARB has seized 19.7 million Rand from the Gupta-owned Sahara Computers
South Africa’s central bank has attached over US$ 1.3 million from a bank account of the now-abandoned Gupta family-owned Sahara Computers, which was one of the country’s leading IT suppliers. Gupta brothers’ – Ajay, Atul and Rajesh – faced trouble after the exit of former President Jacob Zuma in 2016. Currently, the Gupta brothers are living in Dubai and were caught for several deals and brokering in India and South Africa businesses and Bank of Baroda’s branches were shut down in South Africa due to illegal financial deals with the Gupta brothers.
On Wednesday, the Government Gazette published notice by Reserve Bank deputy governor Kuben Naidoo on the forfeiture of the money and any interest accrued from Sahara’s Nedbank account and its deposit into the National Revenue Fund, according to a report in Times Live newspaper. The South Africa Reserve Bank (SARB) has seized 19.7 million Rand (approximately USD 1.3 million) from the Gupta-owned Sahara Computers’ South Africa bank account, it said.
Gupta brothers have enjoyed good connections with several Congress and BJP leaders for the past 30 years and were agents of many corporate houses having business in South Africa.
Sahara Computers was the first major IT company started by the three Gupta brothers — Ajay, Atul and Rajesh. The Gupta brothers are from Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur after they settled in South Africa at the dawn of democracy under Nelson Mandela in the 1990s. Gupta brothers were the go-to people for many powerful people in India including many politicians cutting across political lines. Recently in 2019, they landed in Uttarakhand for the family’s big marriage reception and controversies erupted after they dumped a lot of waste in an ecologically sensitive zone in Uttarakhand’s Auli area. Former Chief Minister Trivendra Rawat was criticised for allowing such a big gathering in an ecologically sensitive area.
Gupta brothers have enjoyed good connections with several Congress and BJP leaders for the past 30 years and were agents of many corporate houses having business in South Africa. PGurus in 2017 reported on the role of the Gupta brothers in lobbying for Jet Airways operations in South Africa and using his clout in the Indian Government during the Congress regime to cancel Air India services for the benefit of Jet Airways.
Many South African politicians came out in the open about the Gupta brothers offering them posts in Zuma’s Cabinet. In their heyday, Gupta’s were literally running Bank of Baroda’s branches in South Africa and at the end of the day, huge money was given to the businesses of the Guptas most of which ended up becoming non-performing assets. In the end, the Bank of Baroda shut down all the branches. To date, no action has been initiated in India against the Gupta brothers.
Sahara Computers, at the height of its success, was one of South Africa’s leading IT suppliers, with naming rights at the top three cricket stadiums in the country and leading sport and entertainment personalities as brand ambassadors. The family is now in exile in Dubai as South Africa continues extradition efforts for questioning in their alleged role in state capture involving billions of South African Rands from state-owned institutions.
The Guptas are alleged to have been part of the looting of billions of Rands through their close association with former President Jacob Zuma, who is also now facing series of criminal charges. Sahara Computers was also embroiled in controversy after Zuma’s twin children were given lucrative management and board positions at the company.
The company also entered into a deal with Subrata Roy‘s Sahara India Parivar in 2004 to manufacture and supply a broad range of IT products through 25 distribution hubs across India. But the partnership was short-lived despite a mega launch in Lucknow attended by top Bollywood celebrities, and business and political leaders from both countries.
In 2019, the US treasury department imposed sanctions on Ajay Gupta, Atul Gupta, Rajesh Gupta, and their associate Salim Essa for their involvement in corruption in South Africa, saying they were “members of a significant corruption network in South Africa that leveraged overpayments on government contracts, bribery, and other corrupt acts to fund political contributions and influence government actions.”
[with PTI inputs and South African media]
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