• Wednesday, June 12, 2024


Suicide case: India denies bail to South African businessman Ajay Gupta

Image used for representational purpose (iStock)

By: Vivek Mishra

An Indian court has denied bail to Ajay Gupta, a member of the Gupta family linked to significant corruption in South Africa, in a case related to the alleged suicide abetment of a businessman.

The Gupta brothers—Atul, Ajay, and Rajesh—originally from India, established a large business empire in South Africa after moving there in 1993 during the country’s post-apartheid economic opening.

Ajay Gupta, 58, and another family member, Anil Gupta, were arrested in Dehradun, Uttarakhand’s capital, last month.

The case involves the death of Satinder Singh Sawhney, a 52-year-old building developer associated with the Guptas on housing projects.

Sawhney’s body was discovered at the base of an apartment block on May 24.

Sawhney’s son stated that a suicide note left by his father accused the two men of making threats against him.

The Times of India quoted Girish Pancholi, director of prosecution, saying Sawhney accused Ajay and Anil Gupta of forcing him to commit suicide through false charges.

Ajay and Anil Gupta were detained the next day, and their bail application was denied on Friday, according to an order from Dehradun’s district court.

“Anil Gupta and Ajay Gupta can approach the high court, but the case is so serious that it will be difficult for them to secure bail,” government lawyer Guru Prasad Raturi told AFP on Sunday.

In 2018, South African investigators alleged that the Guptas collaborated with ex-president Jacob Zuma to embezzle state assets, costing several billion dollars by some estimates.

Atul and Rajesh Gupta fled to the United Arab Emirates. Last year, a Dubai court denied their extradition to Pretoria on a technicality.

Ajay was declared a fugitive in 2018, but South African authorities dropped the charges against him the following year.

Chrispin Phiri, a spokesperson for the South African justice ministry, told AFP on Sunday that Ajay was not subject to an Interpol Red Notice, unlike his younger brothers.

“Our Red Notice was for Atul and Rajesh Gupta. While Ajay is indeed one of the Gupta brothers, he was not listed on the Red Notice sent to Interpol,” he said, adding that Atul and Rajesh were last reported to be in the UAE.

“If they move to any other country under Interpol’s jurisdiction, Interpol is obliged to inform us and the ‘host’ nation.”

Jacob Zuma was forced out as president and leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in 2018 amid corruption allegations. However, this month Zuma won nearly 15 percent of the vote in general elections, leading the recently formed uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party, which helped strip the ANC of its three-decade-old absolute majority.


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