The two Gupta brothers who happen to be South African citizens will presumably not be forced to return to South Africa to renew their travel documents for a long time thanks to unheard-of special treatment from home affairs.
Rapport has reported that Atul Gupta currently has three valid South African passports, which is normally not allowed, while Rajesh Gupta has even more – as many as six.
They reported that a valid passport was sent to Dubai three weeks ago and it was picked up by Ajay Gupta’s wife, despite Ajay being a fugitive from South Africa.
Home affairs issued two maximum-size passports to Rajesh on November 3 when calls for the family’s arrest and asset forfeiture were rising fast.
An immigration expert said that the minister of home affairs would need to give permission for a citizen to have more than one passport at a time, but he’d never heard of anyone have more than two passports at once.
Meanwhile, according to the Sunday Times, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has now started the process to revoke the permanent residency status of Ajay Gupta.
The minister was this week caught up in contradictory statements, having said on Tuesday that both Ajay and Atul Gupta were not South African citizens, but this was later corrected by home affairs director-general Mkuseni Apleni. Atul had become a citizen in 2002, while Rajesh was naturalised in 2006.
They would have needed to renounce their Indian citizenship in order to qualify for South African citizenship since India does not allow dual passports.
The paper reports that on Thursday President Cyril Ramaphosa met Gigaba, who was allegedly too ill on Wednesday to come to parliament for a question and answer session. Ramaphosa wanted clarity on Gigaba’s intentions to act against Ajay.
According to an expert the paper consulted, Ajay Gupta could still be extradited to face prosecution on an alleged charge that he tried to bribe the then deputy finance minister, Mcebisi Jonas, in 2015.
Gigaba’s spokesperson denied that there was any truth to the “politically driven narrative” that Gigaba was close to the Guptas.
Earlier this week the High Court in Bloemfontein ruled in favour of Atul Gupta to have R10 million in his personal bank account unfrozen.
A related preservation order was also amended, meaning that only R40 million of the original R220 million that the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) wanted preserved remains frozen.
Gupta’s lawyers reportedly argued that the R10 million wasn’t the only money in his personal account.
Last month, the AFU obtained the order in relation to the controversial dairy project which the Gupta family and their associates – through their company Estina – allegedly siphoned off more than R200 million meant to benefit emerging black farmers in Vrede. Only R2 million is said to have been spent on the farm.
R10 million was allegedly deposited into Atul’s personal bank account by Estina before the project was even up and running. He has denied this in his affidavit.
Atul Gupta confirmed he was out of the country.