11 Oct 2019
The United States on Thursday sanctioned the three Gupta brothers at the center of the South African corruption scandal that contributed to the downfall of former President Jacob Zuma, saying they had misappropriated state assets.
The U.S. decision to impose financial restrictions on the brothers is a public relations victory for Zuma’s successor Cyril Ramaphosa as he tries to clean up politics and attract foreign investment to lift South Africa’s flagging economy.
The relationship between Zuma and the three brothers – Ajay, Atul and Rajesh – is one of the main areas of focus of a judicial corruption inquiry Zuma was pressured into setting up before he was ousted by his own party in February 2018.
Zuma and the Guptas deny the corruption allegations and law enforcement officials have yet to nail down a convincing case against the brothers – fuelling public frustration with government attempts to crack down on graft.
“The Gupta family leveraged its political connections to engage in widespread corruption and bribery, capture government contracts, and misappropriate state assets,” Sigal Mandelker, the U.S. Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control restrictions on the brothers and business partner Salim Essa mean U.S. citizens are prohibited from doing financial transactions with them or entities they control.
“We will continue to exclude from the U.S. financial system those who profit from corruption,” Mandelker said.
By Nqobile Dludla, Reuters, 10 October 2019
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