South Africa police on alert for ‘fugitive’ Ajay Gupta, say reports
The Gupta brothers have been accused of wielding enormous political influence in South Africa, with critics alleging that they have tried to “capture the state” to advance their own business interests.world Updated: Feb 17, 2018 08:20 IST
South Africa has placed its airports and other entry points on high alert for “fugitive” India-born businessman Ajay Gupta, a close aide of scandal-hit former president Jacob Zuma, amid media reports that he left the country 10 days ago.
Officials at OR Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg are reportedly working with the country’s elite police force, the Hawks, to determine Ajay’s whereabouts, The Citizen newspaper reported on Friday.
The search for oldest of the Gupta brothers, Ajay, was initiated by the Hawks when he did not appear at Bloemfontein Regional Court on Thursday, it said.
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said a warrant for Ajay’s arrest had been issued. He further sent a plea to the now fugitive Gupta brother to surrender to police.
The Hawks said the country’s ports had been placed on high alert.
The Gupta brothers have been accused of wielding enormous political influence in South Africa, with critics alleging that they have tried to “capture the state” to advance their own business interests.
The Gupta family owns a range of business interests in South Africa, including computing, mining, air travel, energy, technology and media.
The Hawks have also issued a stern warning to the bodyguards of Ajay not to protect him as they could face arrest for defeating the ends of justice.
Ajay is wanted in connection with corruption charges emanating from investigations into the Estina dairy farm near Vrede, in the Free State, a project which was originally meant to help poor black farmers but from which the Gupta brothers -- Ajay, Atul and Rajesh -- are alleged to have pocketed millions of dollars.
Ajay was supposed to appear in court in connection with the case on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the OR Tambo International Airport’s records show that Ajay left the country aboard a Dubai bound flight 10 days ago. The airport will hand over footage of the Gupta brother leaving the country, as well as other information relating to his flight, The Citizen report said.
Another media report said a pilot refused to fly a private plane owned Atul Gupta from the Lanseria airport, close to Johannesburg.
“He is a hero because his passenger was Atul Gupta, in his own private jet. This pilot kept the Gupta brother from skipping the country, as the Hawks raided his home in Saxonwold with an arrest warrant for him,” iol.co.za reported.
The three Gupta brothers moved from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh to South Africa in 1993, just as white-minority rule was ending.