Guptas’ double whammy
Brothers’ bid to cross-examine witnesses denied and business goes under the hammer
THE Gupta family yesterday suffered a double whammy after the Commission into State Capture rejected their attempt to cross-examine witnesses who have testified against them, and the assets of one of their companies were set to go under the hammer.
This was while MPs in Parliament grilled officials from the Department of Home Affairs regarding the naturalisation of members of the family.
The MPs were expected to call in law enforcement agencies to help them verify that secret information might have been shared with a Gupta associate by a Home Affairs official.
MPs were referringg to an email, identified from the so-called Gupta-leaks, sent by Home Affairs official Gideon Christians to Ashu Chawla, revealing sensitive information about high-level South African officials deployed in several countries.
Chawla was the former chief operating officer of Sahara Computers and a Gupta associate who was the main intermediary for the brothers and Home Affairs officials.
The information included officials’ addresses, their children’s education allowances and their salaries.
Christians, who had been reposted to New Delhi in 2015, “accepted” that he could have sent Chawla internal information on Home Affairs matters regarding his objections to his being reposted to India.
He could, however, not recall the spreadsheet of information on other officials posted at missions in 63 countries. “I don’t remember that. I honestly don’t,” he said.
At this point, Hlomane Chauke, the inquiry’s chairperson, intervened, saying: “This is tantamount to treason to have such information in private hands.”
Chauke ascertained Christians’s email address and said it corresponded to that in the leaked correspondence.
“This is a matter we would require as Parliament to immediately get the necessary law enforcement agency to look into this issue. Whoever is in possession of this information… it is highly sensitive information that not even these MPs have,” said Chauke. “We need to get Chawla back into the country as a matter of urgency to appear before this commission.”
Chauke said the committee would liaise with the Speaker’s office to facilitate a summons to be issued for Chawla to appear before the committee.
Christians admitted to MPs he knew Chawla well and maintained to a friendly relationship. He also admitted sending his CV to Sahara computers after he returned to South Africa in 2015, before being reposted to New Delhi, but said it was because he was frustrated with his job at Home Affairs at a refugee office in Cape Town.
Meanwhile, Park Village Auctions and GoIndustry DoveBid Liquidity Services has announced it will auction VR Laser Services’s assets next week.
The company, owned by Ajay Gupta’s eldest son, was among several Gupta-owned companies that filed for business rescue earlier this year.