South African authorities, who seek to bring to justice the Gupta brothers, a trio of businessmen accused of looting public resources with the complicity of ex-President Jacob Zuma, said on Monday (July 5th) that an Interpol International Wanted Notice was issued against two of them. The Ajay brothers, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, of Indian origin, fled South Africa shortly after the establishment in 2018 of a commission to investigate widespread corruption during Jacob Zuma’s nine years in power. (2009-2018).
Interpol has published “Red notices” against Atul and Rajesh Gupta, South African prosecutor Hermione Cronje said in a statement. Interpol’s red notices, issued at the request of a state, call on authorities around the world to locate and arrest a wanted fugitive for extradition, surrender or other legal proceedings. This wanted notice is linked to a case concerning a 25 million rand (1.48 million euros) contract paid to a company linked to Gupta, Nulane Investments, to carry out an agricultural feasibility study. The third brother, Ajay, is not concerned by this matter.
Widespread corruption under the Zuma era
South Africa announced in early June to finalize an extradition agreement with the United Arab Emirates, where the fugitives would be.
A damning report published in 2016 on widespread corruption during the Zuma era detailed how the siblings close to the former president won lucrative public contracts and participated in the management of state affairs, including the appointment of ministers. Mired in scandals, Jacob Zuma was forced to resign in 2018 and must be heard by the anti-corruption commission. His successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, who has made corruption his hobbyhorse, must also be heard.
In 2019, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on the Gupta family, freezing their assets under US jurisdiction and notably prohibiting international banks operating in the United States from doing transactions with them.