South Africa cancels arrest warrant for India-born businessman Ajay Gupta

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Cape Town, Feb 15 (IANS) South African authorities have said that controversial businessman Ajay Gupta, a member of the India-born Gupta family who own a business empire in the country and are accused of collaborating with former President Jacob Zuma in looting the state coffers, is no longer wanted by the police in a corruption case.

An arrest warrant for Gupta, issued in February 2018 on corruption charges, was cancelled on Thursday, the BBC reported on Friday.

The authorities had sought to question Ajay Gupta on allegations that he attempted to bribe former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas and offered him the post of Finance Minister if Jonas helped the Gupta family with its business ventures in South Africa.

The Guptas deny any wrongdoing.

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Jonas told the commission investigating state corruption that Ajay Gupta had offered him $42 million to take up the post of Finance Minister. He claimed this happened during a meeting set up by Zuma’s son Duduzane.

Corruption charges against Duduzane Zuma were provisionally withdrawn last month, while evidence continued to be heard by the corruption commission.

As a consequence, the police said, they had to withdraw the arrest warrant against Ajay Gupta.

Former President Zuma was earlier accused of letting the Guptas interfere in ministerial appointments. The family reportedly wields enormous political influence in South Africa, with critics alleging that it tried to “capture the state” to advance its business interests.

As much as they are alleged to have influenced the hiring of ministers, they are also accused of trying to fire ministers who may have got in the way of their business interests.

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One of the highest profile among the suspected Gupta-linked firings was former Finance Minster Pravin Gordhan, who later accused the family of being involved in “suspicious” transactions worth about $490 million, which they deny.

–IANS

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