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By Citizen Reporter


NPA could’ve halted Guptas’ alleged state capture 12 years ago – report

The public prosecutions body says it cannot establish why it had declined to prosecute the family despite a full docket on alleged tax and customs fraud.

The alleged capture of the state by the Guptas, close friends of President Jacob Zuma, could have been arrested 12 years ago if the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had proceeded with the prosecution of a R120-million tax and customs fraud case linked to the family.

The Times reported on Monday that in 2001, the then Directorate for Special Operations (better known as the Scorpions) investigated a case of exchange-control contraventions, fraudulent VAT claims and customs fraud committed between at least 1999 and 2001 involving Gupta-owned Sahara Computers and another company – Trump Technology – allegedly a front for Sahara.

The Scorpions were disbanded late in January 2009 and replaced by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, the Hawks.

Trump Technology was reportedly the sole supplier to Sahara at the time, and was owned by Johannesburg businessman Herbert Chalupsky. Atul Gupta and his wife, Chetali, were the directors of Sahara Computers.

The probe is said to have been concluded in 2003, and there appears to have been two investigations that were conflated into a single docket overseen by the Scorpions.

A spokesperson for the NPA told The Times the public prosecutions body could not establish why it had declined to prosecute the case in 2005 following an investigation by Sars, the SA Reserve Bank (Sarb), and the Scorpions.

“Sars sources revealed that the Scorpions started a criminal investigation after a witness came forward with information. The revenue service was already busy with similar investigations, and was asked to assist with the case.

“In 2002, a whistleblower provided the Reserve Bank with detailed information on how Sahara and Trump Technology were operating their alleged scam. According to official documents seen by The Times, this investigation was then also assigned to the Scorpions for investigation,” the report stated.

NPA spokesperson Phindi Louw said the file on the case was destroyed in line with regulations.

She said the advocate assigned to the case had left the NPA and another, who had been assisting him, could not recall the reasons for the failure to prosecute.

“Dockets are filed by the police, and since this is an old matter, we will have to recall the docket from the police to establish what transpired,” Louw said.

Both Sars and Sarb declined to comment on the investigations due to confidentiality concerns, while Guptas’ spokesperson Gary Naidoo failed to respond to questions.



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