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US imposes sanctions against Guptas

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Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has noted the action taken by the United States to impose sanctions against the Gupta brothers – Rajesh, Atul and Ajay Gupta and businessman Salim Essa.

In a statement issued by the Ministry on Thursday, Lamola said the move would ensure that South Africa’s interests of justice unfold without any hindrance.

On Thursday, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in a statement said it had sanctioned what it termed “members of a significant corruption network” in South Africa. The four are alleged to have leveraged overpayments on government contracts, bribery, and other corrupt acts to fund political contributions and influence government actions.

“[The] sanctions have a direct impact on the financial and private interests of affected individuals,” said the South African Justice Ministry. “Furthermore, these sanctions will ensure that companies or individuals are prohibited from conducting any business in the USA or with any American company worldwide.”

South Africa and the USA have a long history of cooperation on criminal justice, law enforcement and mutual legal assistance. Both countries are state parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption and have a bilateral treaty.

“These international multilateral and bilateral frameworks allow law enforcement agencies of both countries to collaborate on matters of common interest like fighting corruption and ensuring that perpetrators of corruption have nowhere to hide,” said the Ministry.

In the context of this international and domestic legal framework, said the Ministry, the two countries have enjoyed close collaboration on matters of mutual legal assistance.

“Under the umbrella of the International Cooperation in Criminal Matters Act, South African law enforcement agencies have issued mutual legal assistance requests to eight countries around the world, including the United States of America.”

The Ministry said Lamola has taken action to ensure that the execution of these requests is expedited.

In welcoming the collaborative efforts of the USA government, he said it is of critical importance that South Africa’s young democracy confronts corruption and its antecedent effects expeditiously.

“The interest of justice must not be shackled by any boundary or border and justice must be seen to be done without fear or favour,” said the Minister.

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