The UAE is under pressure to do more about tracking the money that enters the country. The Financial Action Task Force, a Paris-based organization set up by the G7 countries to combat money laundering, on March 4 put the UAE on its “gray list” of jurisdictions that don’t do enough to uncover illicit funds.
Corruption scandals involving the Guptas and people linked to them are blamed for damaging indebted state power utility Eskom and rail and ports company Transnet. McKinsey & Co. has paid back money to both companies after working on contracts with Gupta-linked companies. The US-based consultancy has denied intentional wrongdoing.
Years of scrutiny
It was in 2013 that the Guptas first came under scrutiny when it was found that the family had been allowed to use a secure military base to land a plane ferrying wedding guests, with a police escort, to a lavish event at Sun City, the casino resort about two hours west of Johannesburg.
In December 2015, the Guptas were accused of playing a part in Zuma sacking then-Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, and replacing him with little-known lawmaker Des Van Rooyen, a move that caused the rand to crash.
Van Rooyen was removed four days later and replaced by Pravin Gordhan, who had formerly served in the post, after an outcry from business, the public and members of the ruling African National Congress.
By 2016, former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was asked to probe the dealings between Zuma, the Gupta family and state-owned entities. Her 355-page report, called ‘State of Capture’, was damning. With Zuma still clinging to power, a vast trove of emails and documents between the Guptas and their associates was leaked in 2017. By early 2018, the Guptas had fled South Africa.
South African authorities filed charges against the Guptas later in 2018 in connection with a questionable tender to undertake a feasibility survey on a dairy project in the central Free State province, in which a company they controlled was paid R21 million. That case has not yet come to a conclusion.
Ramaphosa won’t comment on the arrests, his spokesman Vincent Magwenya said by text message.
“We’ve always said that fighting corruption in SA requires resilience, that if the rule of law is allowed to take its course, those implicated will eventually get their day in court,” said Stefanie Fick, executive head of accountability for the non-profit Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse. “It seems like that day is around the corner for the Gupta kingpins.”
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