South African authorities seize Gupta properties

By Hassan Isilow

JOHANNESBURG (AA) – South African authorities have seized property worth Rand 180 million ($15 million) belonging to the Gupta brothers, who were close allies of former President Jacob Zuma, who resigned in February.

In a statement, released late Monday, the National Prosecuting Authority said they acted on a court order that implicates the Guptas and others of obtaining Rand 250 million meant for a government project.

The seized assets include 46 properties, two aircraft, 65 cars and cash from bank accounts. A report by South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog, released two years ago, had accused the Guptas of unduly influencing Zuma.

The three brothers who run multi-billion-dollar businesses have been accused of allegedly lobbying the former president to get them lucrative government contracts or appoint ministers who would advance their business interests.

The brothers strongly deny the claims, saying they are “victims of a witch hunt”. Zuma too has denied the claims.

Three years ago, the brothers were also accused of landing a commercial plane at a military air force base in the capital Pretoria, without official permission.

The Guptas left South Africa shortly before Zuma was forced to resign by his ruling African National Congress in February.

According to local media, businesses and homes of the Gupta brothers in India were also raided last month by law enforcement agencies over allegations of fraud.

The National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson was not available for a comment.