31 Jul 2019
South Africa’s public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who heads the country’s top anti-corruption body, was flagged by global banking giant HSBC as having financial links to the infamous Gupta family, according to banking records leaked to OCCRP.
The Guptas are at the center of South Africa’s Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, which is currently holding hearings on the family’s role in grand corruption during former President Jacob Zuma’s time in office from 2009 to 2018.
The bank flagged a payment worth over US$5,000 into Mkhwebane’s account at First National Bank in South Africa in June 2014, during the height of the Gupta family’s influence over the Zuma government, the records show. The money was sent from an account at HSBC’s subsidiary in Hong Kong. First National Bank declined to comment citing client confidentiality.
The flag on Mkhwebane’s transaction was part of a highly restricted internal HSBC investigation that sought to identify a network of Gupta-linked accounts and companies around the world. The network’s key accounts and companies were located in Hong Kong, a tax haven that has been known for providing financial secrecy for foreign clients.
There is no indication of wrongdoing by Mkhwebane. However, HSBC included the payment among thousands of flagged transactions involving dozens of offshore companies that laundered payments structured as kickbacks from a Chinese rail company in a deal that involved Gupta associates.
By Khadija Sharife and Mark Anderson, OCCRP, 30 July 2019
Read more at OCCRP
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