US govt blacklists infamous Gupta brothers and associate Salim Essa

Image credit: Buzz South Africa

The United States government has blacklisted the infamous Gupta brothers Ajay, Rajesh and Atul Gupta, as well as their associate Salim Essa.

A statement from the US Treasury department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) made the announcement on Thursday.

The Office referred to brothers and Essa as “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.”

‘Pay-to-play political patronage’

It said the blacklisting, officially called Global Magnitsky designations, targets the network’s “pay-to-play political patronage.”

Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said, “The Guptas and Essa have used their influence with prominent politicians and parties to line their pockets with ill-gotten gains. 

“We will continue to exclude from the U.S. financial system those who profit from corruption.”

The Office said the sanctions demonstrate US government’s commitment to supporting South Africa’s anti-corruption efforts.

Commission of inquiry

The alleged “state capture” reportedly perpetrated by the Gupta brothers was among the main reasons for the establishment of the ongoing commission of inquiry into state capture.

They are alleged to have used their friendship and proximity to former President Jacob Zuma to enrich themselves by influencing awarding of contracts at state-owned enterprises.

The Gupta brothers were business partners with Duduzane Zuma, former President Zuma’s son.

They are yet to appear at the inquiry. However, Zuma and Duduzane have already appeared, with the former president set to make two more appearances later in October and November.

The brothers left South Africa around the time Zuma resigned from office. They haven’t returned, apparently fearing that they would be arrested.

The inquiry’s chairman, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, rejected their request to testify via video link from outside the country.

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