The assets of the infamous Indian-origin Gupta family and its friend, Iqbal Meer Sharma, were frozen by a South African court on Friday, including luxurious mansions in posh districts.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of South Africa’s Investigating Directorate (ID) requested Interpol to issue Red Notice International Arrest Warrants for Atul and Rajesh Gupta on Thursday.
One of their close associates, Meer Sharma, is spending the weekend in jail alongside a senior official from the Provincial Free State Government, pending a bail plea on Monday.
Sindisiwe Seboka, an ID spokeswoman, previously stated that the Guptas and Sharma face a solid case involving fraud and corruption totaling more than 12 million South African rand.
The Guptas are thought to be in self-exile in Dubai, with allegations that some family members are in India. They are suspected of syphoning billions of rand from state and parastatal organisations.
South Africa has issued extradition documents to both India and the United Arab Emirates, despite the fact that the UAE and South Africa do not have an extradition treaty.
The four Gupta family members wanted are the proprietors of Islandsite, the firm against which the High Court judgement was issued on Friday.
The order stated, “Leave is granted to start asset forfeiture proceedings against Islandsite and the property of Islandsite,” which Seboka confirmed applied to all assets, including all Islandsite properties in South Africa.
The court has appointed a curator to oversee the assets while criminal charges of fraud and money laundering against the Guptas, their firm Islandsite, and Sharma and his firm Nulane are resolved.
“Iqbal Sharma will be served with the freezing order at the Bloemfontein Bainsvlei (police) holding cells, while Islandsite will be served at its local business address,” Seboka said.
In the 1990s, the Gupta family moved to South Africa from Saharanpur, India, as democracy began with the release of anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela.
The Guptas expanded their business from a small retail shoe store to a multibillion-dollar conglomerate with interests in information technology, mining, and media.
The Gupta brothers are accused of using their connection to former president Jacob Zuma to carry out a wide range of unlawful agreements worth billions of rand, according to witnesses at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.