British MP Lord Peter Hain has asked the UK’s finance minister, Sajid Javid, to follow the US’ lead and impose a series of debilitating sanctions against the Gupta family.
In a letter addressed to Javid on Friday, Hain, who was born in South Africa and became a leading anti-apartheid figure in Britain, said President Cyril Ramaphosa needed help in the fight against corruption, looting, cronyism and state capture.
He also asked Javid to request the authorities in India and Dubai to do the same. The Guptas are resident in both countries.
“Just as US Treasury sanctions forbid US entities from doing business with the family or handling their assets, so I ask that all UK entities be instructed to impose the same ban.
“These UK entities include London-based banks like HSBC, Standard Chartered and Bank of Baroda, which in recent years facilitated money laundering by the Guptas and which I exposed in the House of Lords late in 2017 and early 2018.
“Would you also please request the authorities in India and Dubai to impose the same sanctions?” Hain wrote.
On Thursday, the US Treasury announced that the three Gupta brothers – Ajay, Atul and Tony – as well family lieutenant Salim Essa have been blocked from transacting, doing business or engaging in any financial dealings with any US entity or person.
They have now been blacklisted alongside almost 700 other individuals who committed “serious human rights abuse or engage in corruption”.
Hain wants the Guptas to be similarly sanctioned by the UK government.
In his letter to Javid, he accused the family of robbing South African taxpayers of more than £500m in a corruption and money-laundering scheme linked to former president Jacob Zuma.
They, Hain wrote, now lived in a villa in Dubai “purchased with laundered funds”.
He said the Guptas and Zumas had plundered the fiscus “on an industrial scale”, and that it betrayed “Nelson Mandela’s legacy and the values for which so many of us fought for in the anti-apartheid struggle”.
“Using a network of their own companies, buttressed by shadowy shell companies, the Gupta brothers obtained lucrative contracts from state-owned enterprises like Eskom, Transnet and South African Airways, facilitated by corrupt executives installed by former president Zuma.
“As a consequence, the South African Revenue Service – once envied across the world for its efficiency – was nearly decimated and the state power monopoly, Eskom, bankrupted,” Hain wrote.