The United States had raised concerns with South African authorities that the controversial Gupta family would receive money from Iran to buy the Shiva uranium mine in the country, according to the final report of a wide-ranging judicial investigation into corruption.
The final report of the Commission of Inquiry into the coup, handed over to President Cyril Ramaphosa by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Wednesday, alleges the efforts of the three key officials of the State Security Service (SSA) to investigate Indian origins. The Gupta family was thwarted, reportedly by the then agency minister, Siyabonga Cwele.
Led by Director General Jeff Maqetuka, head of the foreign department Moe Shaik and head of the domestic department Gibson Njenje, the SSA wanted to investigate the Guptas, it said.
The Commission handed over its final reports to President Ramaphosa after a four-year investigation in which the three Gupta brothers – Ajay, Atul and Rajesh – were prominently featured over their alleged looting of billions of rand from state-owned enterprises, allegedly because of their close ties to former chairman Jacob Zuma. .
Atul and Rajesh are now being held in custody in Dubai, pending completion of an extradition request from South Africa.
The entire Gupta family, who are originally from Saharanpur in India, fled the country as the net approached them as pressure mounted on Zuma, who was eventually ousted by his own African National Congress that had appointed him for a second term.
“In the Commission’s view, there is a strong argument … that deliberate attempts have been made … to gather national intelligence; in addition, attempts have been made to thwart investigations into the Guptas,” the report said.
“As for the initial interest in the Guptas, Ambassador Maqetuka confirms Mr. Shaik and Mr. Njenje’s evidence that it arose because the Americans had expressed concerns that the Guptas were getting money from Iran to buy the Shiva uranium mine. .
“The second angle from which the need arose to investigate the Guptas arose from the matter of (Transport) Minister (Fikile) Mbalula who had said that he had been informed by the Guptas of his imminent appointment as Minister even before him by the former President.
“According to Ambassador Maqetuka, it had to be investigated for two reasons. First, it posed a serious security risk for them to inform Minister Mbalula in advance by an outsider that would tarnish his name,” the report said.
“Another concern was that by informing Minister Mbalula prior to his appointment, the Guptas would create a dependency on Mr Mbalula on them, as their prior knowledge of his appointment would make him feel like he The Sports Minister meant it, as the Guptas had interests in businesses, including cricket stadiums,” the report said.
At one point, the Guptas had attempted to rename all the major cricket stadiums in South Africa under their IT brand, Sahara.
The Commission was also informed that Minister Susan Shabangu, then Minister of Mines, had been summoned to meet with Ajay Gupta, which was said to have been held in a hotel, but the location had been changed to President Mahlamba Ndlopfu’s official residence in Pretoria. .
The ministerial delegation was ushered into the president’s study by Ajay Gupta, who reportedly pressured the minister to accelerate mineral rights for his company.
“The fact that the meeting was held at the president’s official residence, and during his absence, was, according to Mr. Njenje, to the Guptas to show how powerful they were; to show a minister that they were going to the study of the president could be called in his absence,” the report said.
The heads of the SSA eventually met with Zuma to explain the need to investigate the Guptas because of US concerns and the issue regarding Mbalula’s nomination.
At the Commission, they admitted that while Zuma had never directly instructed them to stop the investigation, it was clear from what he said and from his body language that he disapproved of the investigation.
The Commission found that Zuma did not want the Guptas to be investigated.
“President Zuma defended his friendship with the Guptas and their close relationship with him. President Zuma said there was no need to investigate the Guptas because they were ‘good people’ with whom he had a good relationship,” the report concluded.
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