The foreign properties and bank accounts of the embattled Gupta family – and of influential politicians linked to them – are in the crosshairs of US and UK law enforcement agencies.
The FBI and the US Department of Justice are conducting a joint investigation into the Guptas and their relatives living in the US.
The UK investigation was prompted by South African-born and educated Lord Peter Hain. He asked the British finance minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, to order law enforcement agencies to track down R7-billion thought to have been laundered through UK banks by the Guptas.
He said his motivation was that UK authorities were more likely than those in South Africa to take action.
“People who are part of the investigation [in South Africa] are involved in state capture.”
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, National Crime Agency and Serious Fraud Office are investigating allegations that the family used UK banks in Dubai and Hong Kong to launder money looted from South African taxpayers.
Hain asked that UK law enforcement and regulatory authorities ask all financial institutions in their jurisdiction to review their exposure to the Guptas, to President Jacob Zuma and his family, and to some of their associates.
He lists 28 names, including the Guptas, Zuma, his sons Duduzane and Edward, daughter Duduzile, wives Bongi Ngema-Zuma and Thobeka Madiba-Zuma, and former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Others on Hain’s list are suspended Eskom CFO Anoj Singh, the utility’s former CEO, Brian Molefe and Gupta associate Salim Essa.
The Guptas allegedly used banks HSBC and Standard Chartered to move money from South Africa through Dubai and Hong Kong. Both banks have a presence in those territories.
The Guptas failed to respond to questions.
Standard Chartered said “after an internal investigation, [Gupta] accounts were closed by us by early 2014”. HSBC declined to comment.
Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta are alleged, through at least two deals relating to a government farming project and Transnet, to have scored an estimated R140-million with the help of their nephews, Amol and Ashish Gupta.
The nephews, who are both US citizens, are the subjects of the FBI investigation.
The money was allegedly received through kickbacks in 2011 after Transnet awarded a contract for port cranes to a Chinese state-owned company, Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC), and Swiss company Liebherr-International.
The Times has learned that US and UK law enforcement authorities are preparing to seize bank accounts and confiscate properties linked to Guptas living in the US and UK.
“We are looking at all properties, including moveable assets, which we believe were brought from these funds,” said a UK law enforcement source.
An e-mail seen by The Times shows that in May 2014 Ashish Gupta wrote to Accurate Investments demanding that it honour an agreement to pay him $10-million. He orders the company to pay the money into a New York bank account.
The Hawks said they would co-operate with their foreign counterparts. The FBI declined to comment.