The United States announced new economic sanctions against the Gupta family and an associate on Thursday, adding another international layer of consequences to South Africa’s “State Capture” corruption saga – one that has ensnared numerous firms, state entities and elected officials including former president Jacob Zuma.
The sanctions under the U.S. Magnitsky Act have been applied to Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, as well as business partner Salim Essa. The U.S. Treasury statement said they were credibly implicated in misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain and related practices.
“The Gupta family leveraged its political connections to engage in widespread corruption and bribery, capture government contracts, and misappropriate state assets,” said Sigal Mandelker, an under-secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “Treasury’s designation targets the Guptas’ pay-to-play political patronage, which was orchestrated at the expense of the South African people.”
Essa, the U.S. said, assisted the influential Guptas, who amassed a fortune after immigrating to South Africa in the 1990s and developing close relationships with politicians and state-owned entities.
“We will continue to exclude from the U.S. financial system those who profit from corruption,” the Treasury statement said.
Rajesh “Tony” Gupta fled South Africa for the United Arab Emirates, where the family owns property, according to the collaborative GuptaLeaks journalism project. More from GuptaLeaks is available here.
Image: SA State Capture report