The Guptas are allegedly under the microscope for illegally sending money out of South Africa, a report in the Sunday Times revealed.
A source told the Sunday newspaper that teams from the SA Reserve Bank and Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) had asked the Indian Bank of Baroda for documents on deposits made by the Gupta family into their accounts in the bank.
The money trail apparently stops in these banks, which means the money might have been taken to an offshore account, which a government source told the newspaper is likely in Dubai.
The source told the Sunday Times that the only conclusion one could make is “that the money is going to be taken somewhere else”.
The alleged probe, which the SA Reserve Bank refused to comment on in the Sunday report, comes after Democratic Alliance MP and shadow minister of finance David Maynier on 15 April wrote to director of the FIC, Murray Michell, requesting him to investigate the allegations surrounding the Guptas.
Maynier told Fin24 on Sunday: “After requesting an investigation into the matter some time ago, I am delighted to read unconfirmed reports that an investigation is now underway.”
In a statement in May, Maynier said: “Reports suggesting the Guptas may have purchased a R445m mansion in Dubai reinforces concerns that the Guptas may have illegally moved assets, including large amounts of cash, out of South Africa.
“At that time, there was a grave concern that the Guptas had left South Africa and that their money had illegally followed, or was about to illegally follow, them out of South Africa,” he said.
In April, Ajay and Atul Gupta left South Africa for Dubai, but have since returned. A City Press report at the time states the family were seen leaving Lanseria Airport “with a mountain of luggage”.
This came during a week when the Gupta brothers and President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane announced their resignation from Oakbay Investments and Oakbay Resources and Energy.
On April 20, Michell told the DA: “The matter you have raised will be considered in terms of the powers and responsibilities of the Financial Intelligence Centre in terms of legislation.”
In May, Maynier said the reply was evidently designed to obfuscate rather than illuminate. “Since then I have not been able to confirm whether the Financial Intelligence Centre has launched an investigation into the Guptas.
“Even the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, refused to reply to a direct question on this matter during last week’s National Treasury budget vote debate in Parliament.
“I have, therefore, submitted a parliamentary question probing whether the Financial Intelligence Centre is conducting an investigation into whether the Guptas illegally moved assets, including large amounts of cash, out of South Africa.”
The family is at the centre of a “state capture” storm, with investigations conducted by the African National Congress and the public protector being conducted.
They came under increasing pressure due to allegations that they influenced President Zuma’s appointment of Mines Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and former finance minister Des van Rooyen, as well as offering ministerial posts to Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor.
South Africa’s top 5 banks, its JSE sponsor Sasfin and auditors KPMG all cut ties with the Guptas this year, with KPMG saying it had become too risky being associated to the Guptas.
Maynier told Fin24 on Sunday he will give an update on the matter as soon as possible. Fin24 has also sent queries to Oakbay, its PR firm Bell Pottinger, the SA Reserve Bank and Treasury for comment. These will be published as soon as they arrive.