Net is tightening on controversial Gupta clan

22 August 2017 - 05:49 By The Times Editorial
Ajay and Atul Gupta.
Ajay and Atul Gupta.

Monday's news that the Gupta-owned OakBay has decided to sell its media assets to former government spindoctor Mzwanele Manyi is an indication of how the net is tightening on the controversial family despite the apparent inaction by anyone in authority.

The transaction reeks of desperation in its timing and its formulation and there is little doubt that, while the Gutpas will overtly relinquish their controlling stake in The New Age and ANN7, they will continue to pull the strings.

Manyi has long been a Gupta cheerleader as both his public pronouncements and correspondence in the leaked Gupta e-mails show.

He has been a leading proponent of the "white monopoly capital" conspiracy and he sent his CV to the Gutpas in 2014 looking for an opportunity which has now come to pass.

Few cannot believe that Manyi's "acquisition" is simply a chimera designed to cloak true control, highlighted by the fact that this transaction is vendor-financed. This means the seller - the Guptas - will effectively lend Manyi's company, an apparently inactive shell until now, the money to do the purchase.

The deal is clearly a last-ditch attempt to ensure that these entities retain some banking facilities as the last of their bankers - the Bank of Baroda - terminates its relationship with Oakbay at the end of August.

The withdrawal of banking facilities - all South African banks which had relationships with the Guptas have terminated them - appears to have had the most effect on the Gupta operations and it is hard to believe this manoeuvre will change that.

South Africa's banks do not live in a bubble and will be well aware of the relationships within this transaction.

Will this "sale" materially change the risks that the banks cited when they walked away in the first place? We don't think so.