South African court unfreezes Gupta family assets

A South African court ordered the unfreezing of assets worth around US$20 million belonging to the Gupta family, local media report.

The Guptas – said to be strong allies of former president Jacob Zuma – are accused of corruption by a graft watchdog, which said they used their influence to gain control of state companies and contracts.

The three Gupta brothers, accused by the public anti-graft watchdog of using their friendship with Zuma to influence policy and amass wealth, have however denied any wrongdoing, as has Zuma.

As part of an investigation into theft, fraud and money laundering at a state-backed dairy project in the Free State province meant to benefit the local community, prosecutors in April obtained a court order to freeze money in back accounts and other assets with Gupta-linked companies.

EWN news network says the Free State High Court ruled that the National Prosecuting Authority’s application for a restraining order on the assets was marred by shortcomings.

It did not however say whether the money would be released immediately.

Zuma resigned in February after the ruling African National Congress party threatened to impeach him from office.