The United States has raised concerns with South African authorities that the controversial Gupta family is getting funds from Iran to buy the country’s Shiva Uranium Mine, according to a final report on an extensive judicial investigation into corruption.
The final report of the National Detention Commission of Inquiry, submitted to President Cyril Ramaphosa by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Wednesday, claims that efforts by three top officials in the National Security Agency (SSA) to investigate the Indian origin of the Gupta Family have been thwarted, the agency said that, Siyabonga Cwele.
Under the leadership of Director General Jeff Maqetuka, Foreign Branch Chief Moe Shaik and Domestic Branch Chief Gibson Njenje, the SSA wants to conduct an investigation into Gupta, he said.
The commission submitted its final report to President Ramaphosa after a four -year investigation in which three Gupta brothers – Ajay, Atul and Rajesh – displayed vividly about their allegations of robbing billions of rands from state enterprises, allegedly because of their closeness to the former. president Jacob Zuma.
Atul and Rajesh are now believed to be in custody in Dubai, awaiting the finalization of an extradition request by South Africa.
The entire Gupta family, originally from Saharanpur in India, fled the country when the net closed on them as pressure increased on Zuma, who was eventually ousted by his own African National Congress which had appointed him for a second term.
“In the Commission’s view, a strong case has been made, … that there were deliberate efforts made … to capture national intelligence; moreover, efforts have been made to thwart the investigation into the Guptas,” the report said.
“On the matter that first sparked interest in Gupta, Ambassador Maqetuka confirmed the evidence by Mr Shaik and Mr Njenje that it arose because the Americans had raised concerns that Gupta was getting funds from Iran to buy the Shiva Uranium Mine.
“The second angle where the need arises to investigate the Guptas, arises from the issue of (Transport) Minister (Fikile) Mbalula who said that he had been informed of his appointment as Minister by the Guptas even before he was informed by the former President.
“It needs to be investigated for two reasons according to Ambassador Maqetuka. First, to them, for Minister Mbalula to be informed in advance by outsiders poses a serious security risk. Second, there is a need to protect the former President as that would tarnish his name,” the report said.
“A further concern is that, by informing Minister Mbalula in advance of his appointment, the Gupta family will create a reliance by Mr Mbalula on them as their prior knowledge of his appointment will make him feel bound to them. This undue influence on them. The Sports Minister is seriously, because the Guptas have an interest in businesses that include cricket stadiums, ”the report added.
At one point, the Guptas had tried to rename all major cricket stadiums in South Africa under their IT brand, Sahara.
The Commission was also told that Minister Susan Shabangu, the then Minister of Mines, had been called for a meeting with Ajay Gupta, to be held at a hotel, but the venue was changed to the official residence of the President, Mahlamba Ndlopfu, in Pretoria.
The ministerial delegation was brought into the Presidential study by Ajay Gupta, who allegedly pressured the minister to speed up mineral rights for his company.
“The fact that the meeting was held at the President’s official residence, and in his absence, in Mr Njenje’s view, was for the Gupta to show how powerful they were; to show the government minister that he could be called to the President’s study in his absence,” the report said.
SSA leaders eventually met with Zuma to explain the need to investigate the Guptas because of American concerns and issues related to Mbalula’s appointment.
They admitted to the Commission that although Zuma never directly instructed them to stop the investigation, it was clear from what he said and his body language that he did not agree with the investigation.
The commission found Zuma did not want the Guptas investigated.
“President Zuma maintained his friendship with Gupta and their close relationship with him. President Zuma said that there was no need to investigate Gupta because they were” good people “who had good relations with him,” the report concluded.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)