SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH – ARE THEY (THE GUPTA’s) LEAVING? OR HAVE THEY LEFT ALREADY

SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH – ARE THEY (THE GUPTA’s) LEAVING? OR HAVE THEY LEFT ALREADY

SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH

At least they haven’t captured the sun, but all the signs are that they are packing their bags on everything else, and as in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, it is thanks, and we are off to better climes.

It was inevitable that the hard working family would sooner or later run out of chips and have to cash in what was left overseas. The writing has been on the wall for some time, but as is customary in South Africa, the officials that have the power to stop it, actually turn the other way.

They have had a pretty good haul by any standards, and the ultimate cost to the South African citizen, tax payers and electricity consumers will probably never be known, but it is huge.

The one area that they didn’t capture was renewables, as the opportunities for theft was not only too small for their appetite, or it was just too complicated, and lower hanging fruits were easier with coal and nuclear.


CASHING IN THEIR CHIPS


Orchestrating the capture and control (whether directly or indirectly) of state owned companies, requires determination, cunning and strategy.

Where better to start than by supplying and installing computers in the government. (Who knows what hidden software might have been in there?)

Moving onto a dairy farm in the Free State (Vrede) might seem a strange move until the news leaked out as to how it was used for money laundering into the UAE, and back again to pay for lavish weddings paid for by the tax payer. Its disposal is allegedly in process.

Becoming the good guys and pillar of the establishment required getting control of the media or at least some of it. ANN7 and the New Age newspaper could spread the word of false news, offer opinions directly opposed to responsible journalism, as well as enjoy the benefits of revenues for hosting expensive breakfasts, and advertising in newspapers nobody reads.

This last week has seen their disposal from Infinity Media, at way above realistic value to Lodidox (Jimmy Manyi) for R450m and the purchase apparently funded or assisted by the Gupta’s themselves.

Moving onto even bigger prizes, the sale of Tegeta (by Oakbay Investments) this week to an unknown shelf Swiss company Charles King SA, allegedly a front for Amin Al Zarooni a UAE resident and a business associate of the Gupta’s at what can be considered a firesale price of R2,97b is a sure sign of ‘let’s get out of here’.

Wonderful explanations that these sales were being done in the interest of the employees and to enable the Gupta to clear their name has more than a hollow ring to it.

But let’s not forget who funded the Tegata purchase, Eskom or rather the electricity consumer, and the citizens of this country.

With all the revelations of the scurrilous activities at Eskom, and the successive falls of Molefe, Koko, Ngubane, Singh and others, there are so many questions to be answered, but joining the dots, ignoring the noise and chaos within the cesspit, it is all pretty obvious.

Selling Shiva Uranium will be more difficult as it was always a long-term play and based on the government signing off on nuclear.

That motivation may have had more to do with Number 1 and the Russians, in the belief that uranium would be purchased for the local nuclear power fleet at 3 times the costs of buying uranium in the open market.

The other big financial deals and opportunities for taking money out of the country, funded again by the taxpayers are slipping away.

The Denel Asia joint venture with VR laser and the Gupta has just been terminated.


THE FALL OUT


It is amazing really that it has taken so long. The Gupta story along with State Capture has been making daily headlines for years now, and perhaps only in South Africa the handcuffs haven’t been put on.

Being under the wing of the President, or maybe being the puppeteers that pull his strings, and in turn all of his ministers, what in most western powers would have resulted in incarceration is, instead met with more quango enquiries, investigations and reports.

As clearly the government has little respect for national or international law, the recent non-arrest of Grace Mugabe for assault is just another nail in the coffin of becoming a banana republic.

For the minister in charge Nkoana-Mashabane her decision to grant diplomatic immunity was, she said, "painful" and "agonising" (and no doubt it is with a hole in her head).

Of course, one shouldn’t be surprised as only 2 years ago Omar al-Bashir of Sudan was ‘waved’ off back home, despite being wanted for genocide of 300,000 of his people at Darfur, and the South African courts ruling he should be arrested and detained.

As for the Guptas, their operations have been progressively becoming more untenable.

Closing of bank accounts makes doing business extremely difficult, and fire fighting tactics of trying to buy and failing, the Bank of Baroda, has forced draconian measures of putting others in charge as the fronts to try and continue operations.

With other scandals arising from the Gupta activities notably SAP, and the fall out of other previously reputable organizations such as KPMG, McKinsey, and Bell Pottinger (who were found this last week to have breached their code of ethics), it is just a question of how many heads will fall in the private sector, as the months progress.

As for the heads that don’t fall in government, Zwane, Brown, or even Number 1, it is surely only a matter of time.


COMFORTABLE BACK IN DUBAI


The news this week that the Gupta brothers’ tax returns showed earnings and taxes that were inconsistent with their lifestyles was no surprise. But why worry when you already have captured SARS, and in turn now the Treasury?

Back in Dubai, (they may not actually physically be there), they sit in the comfort of knowing there is no extradition treaty with South Africa.

It is unlikely that South Africa will go after them anyway, and the efforts of political parties and others will come to nought.

For financial justice the citizens of South Africa will need to rely on the US Department of Justice's Kleptocracy Asset Recovery, where under American anti-bribery and anti-money laundering laws, one link to the United States could expose all members of any broader conspiracy to the jurisdiction of American courts. With US $ being used for all the money transfers, along with companies having operations in the US, one can hope, but being realistic it will take years.


SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH


While the judges may not have been caught, the implementing bodies to enact justice, the Hawks, the SAPS, the National Prosecutor, the Public Protector all clearly are the under instruction of the President and in turn the Guptas.

It is a sad episode in the history of South Africa, where democracy has failed its citizens. Critics of those during the apartheid era becoming unbelievably rich from exploiting South Africa, need to remember that they invested into the country and produced wealth and jobs. (Of course many of the associated activities during the evil oppressive regime of Apartheid should not be forgiven). However, in the case of the Guptas, the fundamental difference is that they have used the state and its assets for personal gain at the expense of all citizens, tax payers and users of electricity and given nothing back.

In the process, all forms of nepotism, bribery, extortion, inducements have been used to capture loyalty and false values.

The party is clearly over, the hangover for those that participated is likely to get worse, and for the rest of us, we will be paying the price for their enjoyment. As the Guptas clearly didn’t see a large opportunity in renewables, coal and nuclear being greater opportunities for enrichment, with their departure to foreign climes, may be the more responsible policy for sustainable clean energy through both large utility scale renewables and ‘at home’ renewables can come back on to the agenda?


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