President Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane‚ a shareholder in many Gupta-owned companies‚ bought an apartment worth nearly R18-million at the iconic skyscraper Burj Khalifa building in Dubai two years ago.
Leaked e-mails show that Duduzane purchased the property with substantial assistance from the Guptas and their associates at the end of 2015. The transaction came only months before a letter was circulated in which the Zumas appeared to be seeking residency in the United Arab Emirates‚ the e-mails show.
The Sunday Times revealed on the weekend an apparent plan to relocate Zuma and his family to the UAE. This included a letter prepared for Jacob Zuma requesting residency in Dubai. At the weekend‚ as he faced calls for him to stand down as president‚ Jacob Zuma denied the letter or a plan to move to Dubai.
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In January last year two draft letters circulated from Tony Gupta to Sahara CEO Ashu Chawla and finally to Duduzane with the subject lines: “JZ letter to Crown Prince AUH” and “JZ letter to Sheikh Mohammed”. In the letters‚ prepared for Zuma‚ he appeared to signal an intention to make Dubai his “second home”.
Now leaked e-mails show that Duduzane‚ through one of the companies he co-owns with the Guptas‚ Wens Holdings Limited‚ and registered in Dubai‚ bought an apartment at Burj Khalifa worth AED 5‚000‚000‚ equivalent to R17‚789‚162.
The apartment is about 175.40 square metres and was acquired in December 2015 with a deposit equivalent to R1‚778‚916.
Duduzane has not yet responded to SMSes sent to him requesting comment nor returned any calls.
The Burj Khalifa holds the record as the tallest building in the world at 828.8 metres high‚ including the antennae. It is a mixed used building which includes residential‚ office and retail space and where residential prices come in at around $37‚500 per square metre.
E-mail trails between Oakbay’s now-acting CEO Ronica Ragavan and the international real estate agency Knight Frank’s senior negotiator Gregory Lewis reveal details of the negotiations since October 2015 just a month after Duduzane’s wedding.
“Please find attached a copy of the signed contract for the Burj Khalifa apartment. Following on from last week’s and yesterday’s correspondences‚ please confirm when the 10% deposit shall be lodged via managers cheque or directly into the conveyancers escrow account‚” said Lewis in an e-mail to Ragavan.
Lewis has since left Knight Frank and could not be reached for comment. It is unclear why Ragavan was involved in the transaction but all correspondence on it appears to have been routed via her.
Lewis also informed Tony Gupta in an e-mail that all the paperwork for the property‚ apartment 6011‚ should be ready by the time Duduzane landed in Dubai.
“I am now pushing for the buyers to sort giving POA (Power of Attorney) to their lawyer. This has been agreed but the papers need to be sorted. Should be done by the time Duduzane arrives‚” said Lewis in October 2015.
Tony then sent some details of the contract to one of their business associates Salim Essa to pass it onto their legal consultants to give input and fine tune. By November Lewis managed to forward a price tag to Ragavan for the apartment.
“Going forward‚ will Duduzane attend or appoint a POA to his company?” asked Lewis in one of the e-mails. Duduzane seems to have opted for the latter and registered the property under Wens Holdings Limited.
By December 2015 Ragavan confirmed to Lewis that Duduzane was in Dubai to complete the transaction. Documents show that Duduzane did complete the transaction with his initials and signature in December on behalf of Wens Holdings Limited.
The Guptas' attorney‚ Gert Van der Merwe‚ said he would be meeting with the family later on Tuesday and would only be in a position to provide comment then. TMG Digital/Sunday Times