Guptas US Treasury

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – AUGUST 21: Ajay Gupta at the launch of the ANN7 news channel (Gallo Images / Esa Alexander)

Ajay Gupta: Why the NPA have decided to scrap his arrest warrant

Ajay Gupta is now officially allowed to walk the streets of South Africa a free man, after the NPA lifted his fugitive status. But what lead to this decision?

Guptas US Treasury

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – AUGUST 21: Ajay Gupta at the launch of the ANN7 news channel (Gallo Images / Esa Alexander)

We may be watching the judicial equivalent of a footballer missing an open goal, here. The NPA have made the controversial decision to drop the arrest warrant that was issued for Ajay Gupta last February.

BusinessLive broke the story last on Thursday evening, revealing that the legal team would not be pursuing the immediate apprehension of Gupta in regards to a string of corruption charges.

The Indian billionaire is accused of offering Mcebisi Jonas a R600 million bribe to take the role of finance minister a few years ago, in exchange for looking favourably upon the family when it came to securing government tenders and operating the country from behind the shadows.

Why has Ajay Gupta has his arrest warrant dropped?

It all seems related to the decision to drop charges against Duduzane Zuma in January. The NPA also let Msholozi’s son off the hook for his alleged role in the Jonas bribery. This decision has somewhat weakened the state’s case against Ajay Gupta, leaving them with little choice but to revoke his fugitive status.

This effectively means that Ajay – who has been holed up in Dubai for the last 12 months – could return to South Africa and live as a free man. There’d be no real threat of conviction over his head, but that could all change as the state capture inquiry rumbles on.

Will Ajay Gupta appear at the state capture inquiry?

Both Vytjie Mentor and Mcebisi Jonas have had questions raised about their testimony, which has implicated Ajay Gupta. The decision to lift his arrest warrant would allow the state capture architect the freedom to come back to Mzansi and apply to cross-examine witnesses of his choice.

However, lawyers representing the Guptas have refused to comment on whether this means we can expect to see the elusive businessman appear at the commission. Head of the inquiry Raymond Zondo had ruled out any Gupta testimony via video link as it would give them “special treatment”, but an in-person submission would be permitted.

Guptas “fighting to clear their names”

Ajay Gupta has staunchly maintained his innocence since state capture revelations went public in 2017. In a recent interview with the New York Times, he said he would return to the Zondo Commission “to clear his name”:

“I’m not saying that I’m not coming to the commission. I will, but not at this moment. I want to clear my name. Was Ajay Gupta or Gupta family proven guilty? One place? One smallest thing?” “Forget Nene… We never asked any minister for any commercial benefit.”

Ajay Gupta

Along with this decision and the Duduzane Zuma concession, the NPA can chalk up a hat-trick of embarrassing backtracks on the Gupta criminal empire: Charges have also been withdrawn in the Estina Dairy Farm case – a money laundering scheme with Gupta fingerprints all over it. The wheels of justice may have just suffered a puncture.