Politically connected Gupta family to sell South Africa companies

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JOHANNESBURG: South Africa´s wealthy Gupta family with influential ties to President Jacob Zuma said Saturday they plan to sell all their business interests in the country by the end of the year.

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The family, who had immigrated from India in the 1990s and owns a business empire with interests ranging from media to mining, said it was already in talks with “several international prospective buyers.”

“As a family, we now believe that the time is right for us to exit our shareholding of the South African businesses which we believe will benefit our existing employees, and lead to further growth in the businesses,” said a statement issued by their holding company Oakbay Investments.

The Gupta family companies led by brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh, have over the years been embroiled in scandals, including accusations of having undue influence over Zuma.

Some members of Zuma´s family were once employed in Gupta companies, including his son Duduzane who used to be their business partner.

In April the Guptas stepped down from all executive and non-executive positions in Oakbay Investments, following intense scrutiny over their dealings with the government.

The move was also reportedly linked to the closure of the firm´s accounts by two major banks.

The extent of the Guptas´ political influence came to light early this year when a deputy minister revealed that the family had offered him the position of finance minister before Zuma suddenly removed then minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015.

Some Gupta-owned firms include a 24-hour television news channel, a newspaper, gold and uranium mining firms and a computer business.