To say that the Gupta family is rich is an understatement. The family is super rich. Some parts of the US call their type Brahmin or the glitterati. In short, the Gupta family is a billionaire family.
Everyone can be rich but it takes lots of smart investments, frugality, strong business IQ and of course for the Guptas, strong political influence to get to the top list of what people call the “stinkingly rich people”
The Gupta family may not be among the world billionaires, the family is arguably one of the most influential people in the world.
In 1993 when three sons of the Gupta patriarch moved their families to Durban from dusty Saharanpur in Northern India, they believed they would flourish because “South Africa is the new America.”
But in their wildest dreams, the family never believed it possible to transform their worldly assets of R1.3m into billions of rand in just two decades.
How is that if you may ask, the family found a ready audience and bribable politicians who through them, they were able to acquire sweet deals on State licences and assets.
The Gupta family owns a business empire spanning computer equipment (Sahara Computers and Sahara Systems), media and mining and in 2016 Atul Gupta became the 7th wealthiest person in South Africa with an estimated net worth of R10.7 billion (US$773.47 million), based on JSE-listed holdings.
The family’s parent company Sahara Group now has an annual turnover of about 200m rand ($22m; £14.3m) and employs some 10,000 people.
Gupta Family Businesses
In mining, the Gupta family has good shares in:
- Oakbay Resources and Energy
- Uranium and gold mining and processing company,
- Shiva Uranium Mine,
- Tegeta Exploration and Resources,
- Westdawn Investments (Pty) Ltd t/a JIC Mining Services and
- Black Edge Exploration.
In Media, the family has interests in:
- TNA Media (Pty) Ltd, including The New Age, a national newspaper, and ANN7 (African News Network), a 24-hour news channel.
Other interests include VR Laser Services, steel fabrication for mining, engineering and armoured vehicle applications, Island site Investment 180, Confident Concepts. The Guptas also have links to the passenger airline Jet Airways.
However, the recent revelations from the series of leaked emails exposed by the media has shown that the “corrupt” Gupta family does not only have a strong influence in South Africa’s politics through their relationship with the President Jacob Zuma, the family has a strong influence on three world companies namely:
- SAP- The German multinational software corporation,
- KPMG – A global network of independent member firms offering audit, tax and advisory services.
- McKinsey – A worldwide management consulting firm
According to reports, these three companies have been touched by the alleged Gupta capture. SAP for instance, a software firm that provides software systems to multinational corporations and governments, reportedly agreed to pay “10percent sales commission” to a company controlled by the Gupta family.
The evidence suggests that the company that was founded in 1972 and headquartered in Walldorf, Germany, was deliberately interposed to obscure Gupta involvement and to launder the proceeds to them.
Further investigation into leaked Gupta emails by the Times shows that confidential contracts between state companies and software firm, SAP, landed up in the hands of the controversial family.
The leaked emails show correspondence between senior SAP South Africa officials and their counterparts at Gupta-owned Sahara Computers where some of the confidential information was given.
Other under Gupta reach include draft SAP contracts which were forwarded directly to the wealthy family by their ‘lieutenants’ – business partners, Salim Essa and Ashua Chawla.
Industry experts say that having access to contract information is akin to ‘insider trading’, as it would allow a business to mould itself to be the perfect business partner for government, and secure contracts worth millions, if not billions.
The KPMG whose member firms’ clients include business corporations, governments, public sector agencies and not-for-profit organisations, is known for a consistent standard of service in terms of providing a high order professional capabilities, industry insight and local knowledge.
But, in a recent investigative report conducted by amaBhungane, KPMG South Africa failed to raise alarms when Linkway, a Gupta family company diverted the equivalent of $3.3 million of public fund.
In effect of this accounting sleight is that not only was the wedding effectively paid for from funds diverted from the Free State government’s coffers, but the Guptas paid no income tax on this windfall.
Linkway Trading was a project management company in the Oakbay Group that, inter alia, project-managed the wedding of the niece of the Oakbay Gupta directors.
KPMG offered no explanation in Linkway’s audited financials why a supposedly unrelated third party in Dubai would pick up the Guptas’ R30million wedding bill – or why a wedding was a bona fide business expense. The income was offset against Linkway’s expenses, resulting in Linkway’s receiving zero taxable income from its Free State windfall.
Atul Gupta, while insistent that the family had done nothing wrong, issued an apology. He said his family was “simply trying to give [our] daughter… a memorable wedding on South African soil”.
The wedding was between Vega Gupta, daughter of the brothers’ sister Achla, to Aakash Jahajgarhia, 24, a Delhi businessman.
The 200 guests, in a convoy of luxury vehicles, were given a police escort to the Sun City holiday resort in Rustenburg in the North West province.
For McKinsey, a report from the leaked Gupta email says the company was hired by Eskom for R1billion to improve efficiencies and cut wasteful expenditure.
Instead, McKinsey struck with Trillian Capital Partners -the company majority-owned by Gupta associate Salim Essa- and mocked Eskom’s problems by handing at least R266million of Eskom’s money to a company that in the words of McKinsey’s own executives’ was merely there to receive 30percent of the contract “in return for not much work”.
The Gupta family deals with these companies indicate just how much the family’s powers touch across the world.
Not only is the family making strong business and making much gains sin return, Guptas are making themselves comfortable in every way possible. The family is said to be building a Hindu temple at a cost of R200m in India.
The Gupta family bought a home in Dubai’s Emirates Hills worth 110 million dirham (R448 million). It was, at the time, the most expensive house in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
This residence, situated in “Dubai’s most expensive postcode” is decorated in marble and gold, and with 10 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, nine reception rooms, a double grand staircase, hand-painted dome, space for 11 cars, and chandeliers in virtually every room, the house is extravagant even by Dubai’s standards.
The family was at a time accused of wielding enormous political influence in South Africa, with critics alleging that it has captured the state police and the military who now enormously guard their empire.
The Gupta -Zuma Relationship Equals The Zuptas
• Bongi Ngema-Zuma, one of the president’s wives, used to work for the Gupta-controlled JIC Mining Services as a communications officer
• Duduzile Zuma, his daughter, was a director at Sahara Computers
• Duduzane Zuma, a son, was a director of some Gupta-owned companies but stepped down earlier this year following the public pressure
The truth is, the Gupta family may decide to sell off all their shares in strings of businesses in South Africa, including Sahara Computers, as they earlier announced, financial firms in South Africa may as well choose to withdraw from offering services to the wealthy family, but the family’s influence in major political and world companies is still fast spreading. Their financial taps still run!