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The 3 Gupta brothers at heart of S.Africa graft scandal

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Johannesburg, South Africa | AFP |

Political drama, corruption allegations and even wedding party controversies — the Gupta family, one of South Africa’s wealthiest, has been accused of wielding undue influence behind the scenes.

Now the immigrant family is at the centre of a row battering President Jacob Zuma after allegedly offering key government jobs to those who might help the Gupta family’s business interests.

WHO ARE THE GUPTAS?

The corruption scandal has renewed scrutiny about Zuma’s ties with Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, three brothers from the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Led by Atul, they arrived in South Africa in 1993 as white-minority apartheid rule crumbled and a year before Nelson Mandela won the country’s first democratic elections.

As the country opened up to foreign investment, the Guptas — previously small-scale businessmen in India — built a sprawling empire in computers, mining, media, technology and engineering.

The New Age, a pro-government newspaper, was launched in 2010, and the 24-hour news channel ANN7 started broadcasting in 2013.

They also developed close links with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, and particularly with Zuma, well before he became president in 2009.

WHAT ARE THE ALLEGED LINKS?

Zuma’s son Duduzane is a director of the Gupta’s Sahara Computers, named after their hometown of Saharanpur, and has been a director of several other Gupta companies.

Zuma’s third wife Bongi Ngema and one of his daughters have also been Gupta employees.

Deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas claimed in March that the Guptas had offered him the post of finance minister, providing the first public testimony of their alleged involvement in cabinet appointments.

Last week the BBC reported that little-known ANC lawmaker David van Rooyen visited the Guptas’ home the night before his appointment as finance minister in December.

Mines Minister Mosebenzi Zwane is also seen as close to the Guptas.

Both the Guptas and Zuma, who has described the brothers as friends, deny any wrongdoing.

WHERE DO THEY LIVE?

Now in their 40s, the Guptas hold court at their residential and business headquarters in a huge high-security compound in Saxonwold, an upmarket district of Johannesburg.

It has a helicopter pad and they reportedly travel with their own chefs and bodyguards.

But as pressure has increased on them this year, they were reported to be moving their base to Dubai and to have bought a large residence in the city.

They said in August that they plan to sell their South African assets.

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