Bank Raided In Corruption Investigation

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FILE PHOTO: The Bank of Baroda headquarters is pictured in Mumbai, India, April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo

The Indian Bank of Baroda on Friday was raided by elite South African police units and papers were confiscated as part of an investigation into state corruption under former president Jacob Zuma, a police spokesman said.

The Indian Bank aroused the interest of police and officials two years ago after it was learnt to be working with the Guptas, a family of Indian businessmen at the centre of an influence-peddling scandal surrounding Zuma.

Zuma and the Guptas however deny any malpractices.

Police raided Bank of Baroda branches in Johannesburg and Durban and took documents showing bank transactions involving South African state firms, Hangwani Mulaudzi, a spokesman for the police’s elite “Hawks” unit, said.

“We are of the view that Bank of Baroda 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 Zuma.

Although a representative of the bank’s Johannesburg office declined to comment, an employee in Durban confirmed the Hawks had visited the bank’s premises on Friday.

Formal public hearings into the allegations surrounding Zuma and the Guptas will commence in August and could take two or more years, officials stated.

Police earlier this year raided the compound of the Guptas in Johannesburg 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 Gupta brothers’ location at this time is not publicly known. One of the brothers, Ajay Gupta, was declared a “fugitive from justice” after leaving South Africa for Dubai in February.

Gupta family representatives in South Africa 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.

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