U.K. Sanctions Gupta Brothers Over South African Corruption

U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will impose sanctions against three Gupta brothers who were previously accused of being in a corrupt relationship with former South African President Jacob Zuma.

Ajay, Atul, and Rajesh “Tony” Gupta are among 22 people from six countries who face restrictions ranging from visa bans to asset freezes after the U.K. expanded its sanctions regime to include corruption for the first time. The Guptas, who no longer live in South Africa, have denied wrongdoing.

The three men, and an associate Salim Essa, were “at the heart of a long-running process of corruption in South Africa which caused significant damage to its economy,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

The brothers became so enmeshed in national politics under Zuma that their families and associates were collectively known as the Zuptas. South Africa’s ruling party forced Zuma to quit under threat of impeachment in February 2018 after his links to the family led to a loss of electoral support.

Read more: The brothers who bought South Africa

Britain’s status as a global financial center center can make it “a honey pot, a lightning rod for corrupt actors who seek to launder their dirty money through British banks or through British businesses,” Raab said in parliament on Monday. “Now we have an equally powerful weapon in the fight against corruption,” he added.

U.K. sanctions were previously targeted at individuals and entities for human rights abuses.

Sudanese businessman Ashraf Seed Ahmed Hussein Ali -- widely known as Al-Cardinal -- and individuals from Russia are also among those on the list.

The Russians targeted were involved in the diversion of $230 million of state property through a fraudulent tax refund scheme uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in a prison there after investigating fraud, the Foreign Office said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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