CAPE TOWN. – Indian revenue authorities have reportedly attached numerous properties owned by the Gupta brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh, as South African law enforcement agencies still struggle to ensure the family accounts for its role in state capture.
The Times of India reported that at least 31 properties belonging to the Guptas were attached in a four-day raid involving the towns of Delhi, Saharanpur, Dehradun, Haridwar and Noida. This includes a R200m temple built in honour of the Guptas brothers’ father.
Confiscated documents from these properties point to at least another 60 similar properties belonging to the family. The Guptas used codenames to hide the location and exact identity of these properties from Indian revenue authorities.
Another publication, Jagran.com, claims that the Gupta family might have as many as 125 such properties secreted across India, which officials claim were amassed over the last five to eight years.
This coincides with the Guptas’ role in what has been dubbed state capture in SA.
In addition to the properties and documents, authorities also seized 300 blank cheques signed by the brothers, and bank accounts totalling about R1.7m. The cheques were in the possession of Anil Gupta, brother-in-law to the Gupta brothers.
Revenue authorities are also investigating another 12 individuals and entities linked to the Guptas’ network in India, including the Bank of India and the Bank of Baroda, allegedly for transferring more than R98m to one of the Gupta brothers.
The Indian income tax department has given the brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh until March 26, 2018 to appear before authorities, after they requested an extension of the initial March 16 deadline.
The Guptas will reportedly have to answer charges of money laundering and fraudulently amassing properties.
“If the brothers still do not turn up then necessary action would be taken as per I-T [Income Tax] rules. A representative of the Gupta brothers had come to the I-T office in Dehradun, seeking a month’s time. He did not disclose the reasons for seeking the extension so he was allowed 10 more days,” an Indian revenue authority official is quoted by the Times of India.
Anil Gupta later told revenue authorities that the brothers are in Dubai, and would not be able to attend proceedings on March 16, 2018 because they are out of the country.
Earlier this month, the Times of India reported that Indian revenue authorities raided the family’s business interests and properties in India in a series of raids early in March 2018.
This follows shortly on the family’s hasty exit and apparent abandonment of their South African operations after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s victory at the African National Congress elective conference in December 2017. At least nine Gupta linked companies have since filed for business rescue, News24 has reported.
The move by Indian revenue authorities comes shortly after the Gupta brothers dismissed a call by Parliament’s Eskom Inquiry to testify. Fin24 reported that lawyers for the Guptas labelled it as an exercise in “political showboating” with unfair questioning of witnesses. – News24