Looking for the laundromat: Guptas' Indian properties raided
Indian tax inspectors' raids in the north of India are linked to an international money-laundering probe
Raids on the Indian properties of the embattled Gupta family are believed to be linked to international investigations into money-laundering.
Indian tax inspectors, apparently along with South African officials, on Tuesday raided the Guptas’ family home in Saharanpur in the north of India.Times Select has learnt that the officials behind the raids on the family home, a mall belonging to the Gupta brothers and the building site of a $76-million temple which the Guptas are linked to, are from the Indian national Income Tax and Economic Offences office and the Uttar Pradesh provincial tax authority.
Amrendra Kumar, a senior income tax official in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, said the Gupta brothers were suspected of finding ways to bring “illicit money” they had earned abroad into India.
“We want to look into blocking that. They make all kinds of illegal money there outside. These are the allegations which we want to look into.”Kumar said officials had also raided the Guptas’ home in the town of Dehradun, which is close to their family home in Saharanpur, and one of their offices in the capital, New Delhi.
The Guptas’ lawyer, Ahmed Gani, said he had no information in regards to the Indian raids.
However, a well-placed South African source with knowledge of the Indian probe said the search warrant revealed that the investigation centred on funds which may have been the proceeds of crime and which had never been declared for tax purposes.
According to reports, tax officials and police pounced on the Gupta family at 7am, seizing numerous documents from the various premises.The Indian online news agency Jagran.com reported that the raids were in connection with an investigation which began six months ago into the Guptas and were related to the eldest brother, Ajay Gupta, and the alleged misappropriation of funds in connection with land deals.
The site reported that South African officials had been involved in Tuesday's raids.
Last month, South African police raided Johannesburg properties belonging to the Guptas and their allies in connection with a probe into allegations of state capture, with the Hawks declaring Ajay Gupta a fugitive after he failed to hand himself over to authorities. His brothers, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, are also on the run from South African authorities.
Times Select reported on Monday that arrest warrants for Atul and Rajesh had been issued in relation to the allegedly corrupt Estina Dairy Farm project in the Free State, but that the Hawks had been prevented from acting by the National Prosecuting Authority, which allegedly delayed the process.Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi said he could not provide details on the Indian raids or the Hawks dealing with other law enforcement agencies in connection with the state capture investigation.
“We are dealing directly with Interpol. All the matters we are dealing with will be co-ordinated with Interpol.”
An Interpol source confirmed they were assisting in several investigations into the family.“The investigation has several legs, which involve co-operation with a number of countries.”
Tuesday’s raids came ahead of Wednesday’s looming showdown between the Hawks acting head, Lieutenant-General Yolisa Mathakatha, and National Prosecuting Authority boss Advocate Shaun Abrahams in parliament.
The battle is over allegations that arrests in connection with the state capture investigations were deliberately stalled by the NPA, which delayed in giving permission for them to go ahead.
“The NPA, especially its boss, have a lot of explaining to do,” another source close to the investigation said. “We could have caught these people a while ago. We could have had them in court instead of chasing them and other higher flyers around the globe. We look like idiots. The NPA must tell Parliament exactly why they delayed.”The approaching battle follows Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on Tuesday clarifying issues around the Guptas’ South African citizenship in a briefing on the outcome of a meeting held with the parliamentary portfolio committee on Monday.
He said Ajay was not a South African citizen, but rather a permanent resident, and that Atul had never applied for citizenship.
The brothers and their wives were naturalised in 2015 after Gigaba overrode a decision by the director general to decline the application.
Gigaba said the Guptas had not been favoured when they applied for naturalisation, and his actions were allowed in law.
On Tuesday, Standard Bank refuted reports that it had agreed to open baking facilities for business rescue practitioner Louis Klopper, who has been appointed to run seven Gupta companies including the family’s four mines.The bank said it had severed ties with the Gupta family and their businesses in April 2016 and “this decisions still stands”.