Gold mafia helped Gupta brothers to capture South Africa State

Atul and Rajesh Gupta


One of South Africa’s biggest money launderers was behind three companies that played a key role in the country’s state capture by the controversial Gupta brothers under former President Jacob Zuma, Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit (I-Unit) has found.

The three companies, Varlozone, Zokubyte and Coral General Traders, were identified by the Zondo Commission — an investigation set up by the South African government — as conduits used for fraud and the capture of state funds by a small group of South African politicians and businessmen.

Yet the investigators appointed by the Zondo Commission were unable to identify who managed these companies and transferred looted South African money abroad on behalf of the Guptas.

Now, documents obtained by Al Jazeera show that the person behind Varlozone, Coral General Trading and Zokubyte was Mohamed Khan, also known as Mo Dollars, a well-known South African money launderer.

“That payment was done by Mohamed,” whistleblower Dawood Khan, Mohamed’s brother and former employee, told Al Jazeera.

State capture is a form of corruption where a small group of people influences the decision-making process of a state for personal gain. South Africa’s current government, under President Cyril Ramaphosa, has accused two brothers of the Gupta family of businessmen — which became synonymous with state capture under Zuma — of plundering the country’s funds through a systematic web of corruption. The brothers were arrested last June in the United Arab Emirates. But last week, the UAE dismissed South Africa’s request that the Gupta siblings be extradited.

The new revelation, identifying Mohamed Khan as the previously missing link in the Gupta state capture case, is part of Gold Mafia, a four-part investigative series into several gold smuggling and money laundering gangs operating in Southern Africa.

Gupta Brothers
The Zondo Commission was established in 2018 to investigate reports of state capture, corruption and fraud mainly by the Guptas, an influential South African family with Indian roots.

Since their arrival in South Africa in 1993, the Guptas managed to build a vast business empire and they eventually came to wield enormous influence in the country, allowing them to obtain large amounts of state funds that they laundered offshore.

As their power grew, the Guptas were awarded state contracts, allegedly bribed politicians and even had influence over ministerial appointments in Zuma’s government. Such was their clout that in 2013, they managed to use a South African military airport to bring hundreds of guests from India for a wedding, sparking a national controversy.


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