The Hawks have obtained warrants for the arrest of at least one of the Gupta brothers.
The unit is now waiting for prosecutors at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to sign off the warrants so that the arrests can be effected.
A senior Hawks official told City Press on Monday evening that a magistrate had issued warrants of arrest for at least one of the Gupta brothers as well as an undisclosed number of the family’s associates.
However, he was unable to say which of the brothers face arrest or reveal the identity of their associates in the Hawks’ sights.
The Gupta brothers include elder brother Ajay, as well as Atul, and the younger brother Rajesh, also known as Tony.
City Press understands that the charges stem from former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report.
Earlier on Monday afternoon, City Press reported that the Asset Forfeiture Unit was going after the Gupta family and their associates and was set to serve summons on them on Tuesday morning, to preserve assets of theirs worth R1.6 billion.
City Press understands that the process was meant to be accompanied by the simultaneous arrests of members of the Gupta family, who are also the business partners of Zuma’s son Duduzane, as well as some of their close associates, which include senior politicians.
City Press understands from senior sources within the Hawks that they have in their sights Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, who irregularly helped the Guptas acquire Optimum Coal mine from Glencore.
However, sources within the Ministry of Police told City Press late last year that the police were ready to act but “approaching the matter carefully”.
“The National Director of Public Prosecutions [Shaun Abrahams] will make remarks when he is ready. He has been working extremely hard behind the scenes on this and it’s completed in part,” said a source within the police ministry. “We are ready. But methodological and very patient. In weeks.”
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi declined to comment.
Three senior officials at the Asset Forfeiture Unit and the NPA confirmed to City Press that the unit sought to preserve Gupta assets worth R1.6 billion, which will be placed under curatorship.
The application was brought in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, which allows assets of defendants in criminal cases – or people who have yet to be criminally charged – to be preserved pending the outcome of their prosecution.
After they have been successfully prosecuted, the assets are then permanently forfeited to the state.
The R1.6 billion includes an application against financial advisory firm McKinsey and Co, and Gupta-linked Trillian which was mostly owned by Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa, which syphoned off hundreds of millions of rands from Eskom.
City Press also reported that R30 million of that amount relates to the failed dairy farm project through which the Free State provincial government handed a Gupta-linked company called Estina – whose sole director was an IT salesman with no farming experience – a free 99-year lease to a 4400-hectare farm outside Vrede.
The Free State MEC for agriculture at the time was Zwane.
The #GuptaLeaks also showed that a Gupta-owned company called Linkway Trading funnelled R30 million in cash earmarked for the Vrede dairy project to pay for the lavish Sun City wedding of their niece, Vega, and wrote it off as a “business expense”.
City Press was told that the application for a preservation order had taken this long because the Asset Forfeiture Unit had to secure cooperation from foreign governments in countries in which the Guptas have interests.
In a statement released earlier on Monday evening, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) said it “applauded the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) team, under advocate Knorx Molelle, for obtaining an order against the companies that stole money from Eskom, Trillian and McKinsey and Co”.
“Through Salim Essa’s Trillian, millions of looted wealth were diverted into Gupta bank accounts. We want that R595 million returned to state coffers with interest and penalties,” the union federation said in a statement issued by its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, deputy general secretary Moleko Phakedi, and acting spokesperson Patrick Craven.
“Through McKinsey and Co, R1.1 billion was corruptly paid to a multinational consulting firm.”
Saftu laid charges against Trillian and its shareholders in October.
“We have been aware of the order since last year but have kept mum to allow the tracing of assets to take place effectively,” the federation said. “We are concerned that the order took one whole month to execute after being granted by Judge Murphy on 15 December 2017. We call on the curator to move with all due speed now.”
Saftu also said it was “outraged” that the NPA and Hawks had “still made no progress with the criminal prosecutions”.
“We now urge the AFU to proceed with haste against the other criminals who partook in the feeding frenzy at SoEs. We stand ready to mobilize in their protection should any captured state official get in their way.
“Our lawyers are however on stand-by to step in should this process be unduly delayed. The net must now close and the state be dredged clean of the old order.”