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'South African police issue arrest warrant for Ajay Gupta'

Press Trust of India  |  Johannesburg 

South today said they have obtained an arrest warrant for absconding Ajay Gupta, the India-born of scandal-hit former Jacob Zuma, said.

The Hawks - the police's elite high-priority crimes unit - yesterday arrested three people as they raided the posh home of India-born Guptas, a controversial business family linked to Zuma, who resigned today.

Ajay the patriarch of the embattled family is "on the run" and surrounded by a team of heavily armed bodyguards, Times Live reported quoting police officials.

Hawks officials confirmed that Ajay was a fugitive from the law and that they had obtained a warrant for his arrest, the report said.

The warrant comes amid indicating that Ajay's brother was also being sought.

Their nephew Verun today appeared before the on charges of corruption fraud and theft, the report said.

The charges relate to the theft of 220-million rand (USD 19 million) from the Free State agricultural department.

Verun appeared alongside his co-accused and family lieutenants Ronica Ragovan Ashu Chawla and Free State agricultural officials and and

Howa Gupta Chawla Vasrum and Gupta were released on 200000 rand bail each while Thebetha Masiteng and Dlamini were each released on 10000 rand bail, the report said.

They will appear in court again on August 17.

Hawks confirmed that they were searching for Ajay.

"As far as our team investigating state capture is concerned, he is a fugitive from the law," he said.

"He has surrounded himself with bodyguards. We spoke to his lawyers he was meant to be surrendered but never did.

"We have issued a warrant of arrest for him. Although those protecting him must know they are protecting a wanted suspect. They will be charged with aiding and abetting a suspect," the said, adding that they had flagged border posts and were hoping to close in on Ajay soon.

Yesterday, the Hawks carried out raids at the home of the in the plush suburb of Saxonwold in in connection with the Vrede farm investigation.

The Gupta family owns a range of business interests in South Africa, including computing, mining, air travel, energy, technology and media.

The three brothers, Atul, and Ajay, moved to in 1993 from India, just as white-minority rule was ending.

They are known friends of 75-year-old - and his son, daughter and one of the president's wives worked for the family's firms, said.

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 Vrede farm investigation relates to 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 family are alleged to have pocketed millions of dollars, the allegations they deny.

Zuma's links to the Guptas are one of the reasons he resigned before the 2019 The Guptas and have denied all allegations of wrongdoing.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 15 2018. 21:00 IST
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