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South African police raid Bank of Baroda in corruption investigation


(Reuters) - An elite police unit raided offices of India's of Baroda on Friday and seized documents as part of an investigation into state corruption under former Jacob Zuma, a police said.

of Baroda, which is winding down its operations in South Africa, was thrust into the spotlight two years ago when it started working with the Guptas, a family of Indian-born who are at the centre of an influence-peddling scandal surrounding

and the Guptas deny wrongdoing.

Police raided of Baroda branches in and and took documents showing involving South African state firms, Hangwani Mulaudzi, a for the police's elite "Hawks" unit, said.

"We are of the view that was used as a conduit for the transfer of illicit funds. The raids are happening as part of 'state capture' investigations," Mulaudzi said, using a phrase coined to describe alleged influence-peddling under

A Bank of Baroda employee in who picked up the telephone confirmed the Hawks had visited the bank's premises on Friday.

"This search and seizure operation is not for investigation on Bank of Baroda. This requisition by the Hawks is in relation to the continuing ongoing investigation of the Gupta family," the bank said in a statement on Saturday.

The bank has been cooperating with investigating agencies and has shared relevant documents with them, it said.

An inquiry into allegations surrounding Zuma and the Guptas will begin formal public hearings in August and could take two years or more, officials have said.

Police earlier this year raided the compound of the Guptas in as part of an investigation into theft, fraud and money laundering at a state-backed dairy project in the Free State province that was meant to benefit the local community.

The whereabouts of the Gupta brothers is not publicly known. One of the brothers, Ajay Gupta, was declared a "fugitive from justice" after leaving for in February.

representatives in could not be reached for comment.

Zuma was in court on Friday for a separate hearing relating to a $2.5 billion arms deal from the 1990s. He faces 16 charges of fraud, racketeering, corruption and money laundering in that case.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Additional reporting by in MUMBAI; Editing by and Mark Potter)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, June 09 2018. 16:51 IST