Wednesday, 18 September 2019

FBI, UK Serious Fraud Office start investigating Gupta family

GUPTA

JOHANNESBURG: The long arm of the law is finally catching up with South Africa’s crony capitalist Guptas and their network of criminality and corruption.

FBI has launched a probe into the family, focusing on nephews of the Gupta brothers:

Ashish and Amol Gupta. Both are US citizens which opens them to investigation and prosecution for criminality committed anywhere on earth. The FBI is investigating payments made by a Gupta-linked UAE front to the nephews’ US-based company Brookfield.

The FBI is drawing on information in the Gupta Leaks emails, a copy of which is in its possession. The powers of the FBI are wide-ranging because of the all-embracing Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

There is a precedent from the Apartheid era when the FBI arrested a family member of South African hoteliers, got him to turn state witness and using his testimony as leverage to prosecute.

In the meantime, news also broke today that UK authorities have been instructed by Chancellor Philip Hammond to investigate HSBC and Standard Chartered banks for facilitating Gupta money laundering. The Guptas are rapidly discovering that there is a serious downside to going global.

To date, revelations from the Gupta email leaks have exposed how the likes of KPMG, McKinsey, SAP and Software AG have all been exposed for their links to the Guptas.

Jacob-Zuma

The U.K. has asked financial enforcement agencies to probe possible ties between HSBC Holdings Plc and Standard Chartered Plc to South Africa’s Gupta family.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said that he had passed on concerns from Peter Hain, a former Labour cabinet minister, that the London-based banks might have handled illicit funds linked to the family via Hong Kong and Dubai.

The Guptas are at the heart of a political scandal in South Africa over allegations that they used a friendship with President Jacob Zuma to influence state business. Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.

Read more: A recent story on the fallout from the graft scandal

Hain did not accuse HSBC or Standard Chartered of wrongdoing but, in a letter to Hammond, said that they should review transactions due to evidence, including material from whistle-blowers, that hundreds of millions of South African rand were laundered out of the country, according to the FT.

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