Johannesburg: South African police unit 'Hawks' on Friday raided Bank of Baroda's offices, and seized documents during an ongoing investigation into corruption that was perpetrated carried out under former president of South Africa Jacob Zuma, a police spokesman said. Bank of Baroda is set to close its operations in South Africa.The state-run bank was embroiled into the spotlight nearly two years ago when it started working with the Gupta family, Indian-born businesspersons who are at the centre of an influence-peddling scandal surrounding Jacob Zuma.
- South African police seized documents relating to bank transactions
- The corruption case involved Gupta brothers of South Africa
- The whereabouts of the Gupta brothers is not publicly known
Zuma and the Guptas deny wrongdoing. Recently, NDTV reported that the Johannesburg high court ordered the grounding of Gupta family-owned Bombadier Global 6000,though the whereabouts of jet were unknown.
Police raided Bank of Baroda branches in Johannesburg and Durban and took documents showing bank transactions involving South African state firms, Hangwani Mulaudzi, a spokesman for the police's elite "Hawks" unit, said.
"We are of the view that Bank of Baroda was used as a conduit for the transfer of illicit funds. The raids are happening as part of 'state capture' investigations," Mulaudzi said, using a phrase coined to describe alleged influence-peddling under Zuma.
A Bank of Baroda employee in Durban who picked up the telephone confirmed the Hawks had visited the bank's premises on Friday.
"This search and seizure operation is not for investigation on Bank of Baroda. This requisition by the Hawks is in relation to the continuing ongoing investigation of the Gupta family," the bank said in a statement on Saturday.
The bank has been cooperating with investigating agencies and has shared relevant documents with them, it said.
An inquiry into allegations surrounding Zuma and the Guptas will begin formal public hearings in August and could take two years or more, officials have said.
Police earlier this year raided the compound of the Guptas in Johannesburg as part of an investigation into theft, fraud and money laundering at a state-backed dairy project in the Free State province that was meant to benefit the local community.
The whereabouts of the Gupta brothers is not publicly known. One of the brothers, Ajay Gupta, was declared a "fugitive from justice" after leaving South Africa for Dubai in February.
Gupta family representatives in South Africa could not be reached for comment.
Zuma was in court on Friday for a separate hearing relating to a $2.5 billion arms deal from the 1990s. He faces 16 charges of fraud, racketeering, corruption and money laundering in that case.
© Thomson Reuters 2018
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