The United States Department of Treasury on Thursday blacklisted South Africa’s Indian-origin Gupta family, and their associate Salim Essa, local news website News24 reported.

“The Guptas and Essa have used their influence with prominent politicians and parties to line their pockets with ill-gotten gains,” US Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mendelkar said. “The Gupta family leveraged its political connections to engage in widespread corruption and bribery, capture government contracts, and misappropriate state assets.” Specifically, those blacklisted are Ajay Gupta, Atul Gupta, Rajesh Gupta, and Salim Essa. The Gupta family has close links with former South African President Jacob Zuma.

The US Treasury Department said that Ajay Gupta formulated the Guptas’ corrupt business strategies and controlled its finances. Atul Gupta oversaw the family’s outreach to corrupt government officials, and Rajesh Gupta cultivated relationships with the sons of powerful South African politicians. Essa “materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, technological support in the corruption network”, the department added.

“We support the anti-corruption efforts of South Africa’s independent judiciary, law enforcement agencies, and the ongoing judicial commissions of inquiry,” the treasury department said.

The Guptas have been accused of corruption in several cases. “Credible reports of these corruption schemes include the Gupta family offering members of the South African government money or elevated positions within the government, in return for their cooperation with Gupta family business efforts,” the treasury department said.

In December last year, South African prosecutors had said they would withdraw corruption charges against Gupta brothers in the Estina dairy farm project scam in Free State province. The country’s National Prosecuting Authority has alleged that $20 million (Rs 139 crore) meant for poor dairy farmers in Free State was supplied to the Guptas and their associates.

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