Guptas leave as Minister denies meeting in Dubai

APRIL 11, 2016

The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs has reportedly denied weekend media speculations that Minister David van Rooyen met the controversial Gupta family in Dubai two weeks after his removal as Finance Minister in December last year.

On Sunday, CityPress reported that brothers Ajay and Atul Gupta departed from Lanseria Airport on Friday evening, a day following their resignations from Oakbay Investments after Standard Bank and First National Bank confirmed the closing of their business accounts admits widening reports of state capture.

It has since been reported that Nedbank are also in the process of freezing their accounts while ABSA reportedly pulled the plug in December. The remaining shares of the company are expected to be put up for sale at a later stage.

At the same time, Oakbay also confirmed the resignation of Varun Gupta as the CEO of its resources and energy division, and President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane from his position as director of Shiva Uranium.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times claimed the Guptas were present in Dubai when van Rooyen travelled there on what he later described as a “private visit”. It also alleged that Zuma’s visit to Saudi Arabia last month, which involved a stopover in Dubai, had been a last minute decision although this was denied by the Presidency.

According to the paper, a Bombardier Global Express 6000 business jet with the registration ZS-OAK had also been present in Zurich last November when Minerals and Resources Minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, visited the country to facilitate the sale of the Optimum coal mine from Swiss-based mining group Glencore, to a company owned by Guptas.

The plane, reported to be the same one which carried Ajuy and Atul from the country, stirred controversy in September when it emerged that the Department of Defence splashed out R5-million for it to be used by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on a state visit to Japan.

Reacting to the Department’s statement, Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Kevin Mileham said van Rooyen must give account to Parliament on the exact reasons for his visit.

“Minister van Rooyen’s appointment is already under a dark cloud of suspicion. This is attributable to allegations that the Guptas played a hand in his appointment as Minister which would be highly problematic,” Mileham said.

“It cannot be that Cabinet Ministers are effectively allowed to serve at the behest of the Gupta brothers to advance their personal self-interest while the people of South Africa suffer every day without the basic services that they so desperately need”.

Congress of the People (Cope) spokesperson Dennis Bloem has said the party is under no illusion that the family’s departure is an attempt to “avoid criminal prosecution.

“If their departure is permanent, it will indeed add credence to our view that they fled in order to escape investigation and prosecution. It will also suggest that Mr Zuma is so deeply implicated in corruption that South Africans must mount pressure on him for a judicial commission of enquiry into his role in corruption,” Bloem said.

News24 has since reported that the plane landed in the town of Nakur near the Indian capital New Delhi on Monday, after departing from Dubai shortly after 00h00.