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Public Protector, Hawks reveal latest in Gupta state capture probe

Jun 21 2016 16:10
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – While the Guptas have received no indication that they are being investigated for state capture, authorities seem to be starting the probing process.

The Guptas’ family spokesperson, Gary Naidoo, told Fin24 on Saturday that the Guptas had not received any correspondence from any authorities relating to allegations of corruption or state capture.

This followed the African National Congress inquiry that found the Guptas had not captured state resources through their friendship with President Jacob Zuma. The non-criminal inquiry received only one submission.

So where do the Guptas stand regarding accusations of corruption and state capture?

Who is investigating the Guptas?

Public Protector (PP) Thuli Madonsela’s investigation into two matters relating to the Guptas won’t really take off until they receive additional funding from Treasury, PP spokesperson Oupa Segalwe told Fin24 on Monday.

“The availability of an investigative capacity was a challenge, hence a request for special funding - commission of inquiry-style - from Treasury,” he said.

Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi told Fin24 on Tuesday that they were conducting an inquiry relating to three matters regarding the Guptas.

“We have received representations from the Democratic Alliance, Cope and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor,” he said.

These representations relate to affidavits that the three parties filed at various police stations around South Africa in May, which accuse the Guptas, Zuma and various ministers of state capture and corruption.

Mulaudzi made it clear that no formal investigation against any of these individuals was underway.

“Their affidavits remain confidential pending the inquiry by our anti-corruption unit," he clarified.

RELATED: Guptas to fight Eskom over R2bn coal fine - Howa

“We are not going to allow anyone to pressurise us into doing our job,” Mulaudzi added. “We should be given space to do our job without fear, favour or pressure.

“There are no charges that have been formulated or a case docket that has been opened,” he said. “Those cases cannot be opened until we have finalised our inquiry. We first have to take it to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), who will decide whether a docket should be opened or whether we should close the inquiry.”

Anonymous sources told Bloomberg and the Sunday Times last week that the Guptas are being investigated with regard to their Bank of Baroda bank accounts by the SA Reserve Bank and the Financial Intelligence Centre. Oakbay Investments CEO Nazeem Howa and Naidoo both denied being informed about such an investigation. The authorities declined to comment.

Parliamentary inquiry into the Guptas?

There is also the slim possibility of a parliamentary inquiry into the Guptas, as the Democratic Alliance (DA) has requested this on a few occasions.

After being denied an inquiry in April, the DA on Monday said it would request a parliamentary inquiry into the R51bn tender for the purchase of 20 new locomotives by the Passenger Railway Agency of South Africa (Prasa), which has been alleged to have been unduly interfered with by the Gupta family and Duduzane Zuma.

RELATED: Guptas deny trying to capture R51bn Prasa tender

“Parliament must use its power to summon the Gupta brothers and Duduzane Zuma before it to account for this highly irregular conduct for which they stand accused,” the DA said.

“Should Parliament determine that there were irregularities in this regard; Parliament is duty-bound to refer these transgressions for criminal prosecution.

“The purpose of this inquiry is to ensure that Prasa is not being used as a personal bank by the Guptas and those close to President Zuma.”

What the Public Protector is investigating

Segalwe said the Public Protector is investigating the conduct of the state in the whole “state capture” allegations.  

“She was asked by a collective of Catholic priests to investigate allegations of state capture by and all Gupta family’s business dealings with the state to establish if there has been any corruption or improper conduct,” he said. “The specific request is to look into tenders or state contracts, mining licenses and advertisements on the New Age newspaper.”

He said the Public Protector was further approached on the basis of the Executive Members' Ethics Act by the DA in Parliament to look into suspected breaches of the Executive Ethics Code by the President in relation to Cabinet appointments.

RELATED: State capture reports taint Guptas' friendship with Zuma

“This was in reference to claims by the Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas and former MP Vytjie Mentor that they were offered executive positions by members of the Gupta family in exchange for favourable executive decisions and beneficial business interests.

“The Public Protector was further approached by the priests to investigate whether Mr Jonas and Ms Mentor were offered Cabinet positions by the Guptas, whether the appointment of Minister Des Van Rooyen was known beforehand by the Gupta family and whether two senior advisers with links to the Gupta family were appointed to the National Treasury alongside Mr Van Rooyen, without following proper procedure.”  

READ: Mcebisi Jonas opens up on state capture

How Public Protector and police work could merge

“We will take into account the work being done by the police or any other agency and at appropriate intervals meet to rationalise work," said Segalwe.

“It's worth noting that administrative investigations and remedies can be reconciled with criminal law enforcement and that the Public Protector Act recognises that hence giving the Public Protector the power to refer evidence of criminality to prosecutorial authorities.

“In this case, evidence of corruption or fraud would be referred to the NPA, which could be combined with findings of the police.

“It is also worth noting that in terms of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act, the Public Protector is the sole institution in the entire country that has the powers to investigate alleged breaches of the Executive Ethics Code.”

Segalwe said Madonsela’s departure at the end of October – following her seven-year term – won’t hamper the investigation.

RELATED: 5 ‘truths’ the CEO of Gupta-owned Oakbay wants you to know

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