Guptas’ Indian bankers in Outa’s  firing line

Ajay and Atul Gupta.
Ajay and Atul Gupta. Image: Muntu Vilakazi/Gallo Images
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) is taking legal action against the Bank of Baroda and the State Bank of India for allegedly failing to comply with South Africa’s banking laws in their relationship with the controversial Gupta family.

“We have compiled evidence to take action against these banks and handed it to the Registrar of Banks and the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).

“We want these authorities to act to ensure that the Bank of Baroda and the Bank of India cease all business with the Guptas and revoke their licences to trade within South Africa,” said Outa chief operations officer Ben Theron.

Various banks subsequently closed the family’s bank accounts.

Outa’s investigation found suspicious financial transactions predating that list, from 2002 onwards.

“We found that the businesses linked to the Guptas bought properties over more than a decade for a total of R245-million – more than R50-million was paid in cash – but managed to get bonds on these properties totalling nearly R1-billion, an amount that far exceeds the value of these properties.”

The Bank of Baroda provided bonds valued at R811-million and the Bank of India provided bonds of R176-million; the remaining R11-million came from FirstRand.

“The transactions linked to the Bank of Baroda and the Bank of India are particularly problematic,” said Theron.

The organisation further said some properties appeared to have had massively inflated values.

On June 4 the Sunday Times reported suspicions of money-laundering as the Gupta family spread its tentacles far and wide.

Using leaked Gupta e-mails, the newspaper pieced together transfer requests from Oakbay to Sahara CEO Ashu Chawla, which blew the lid on how the family moved money around and out of South Africa.

“Their modus operandi: break down large sums into lesser amounts and shuttle them through a number of companies before they reach the Bank of Baroda,” the article read.

BY KGAUGELO MASWENENG

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