Guptas sought to extend their sway to DRC
Atul Gupta proposed as honorary consul to SA, giving him diplomatic legal immunity
The Guptas attempted to extend their political influence to the minerals-rich Democratic Republic of Congo by urging the Central African country's ambassador to Pretoria to appoint Atul Gupta as an honorary consul.
In a letter written by one of the family's trusted lieutenants, Nazeem Howa, just three days before President Jacob Zuma announced his cabinet in May 2014, the Guptas claimed that Atul was one of the foremost and most respected businessmen in South Africa and had "earned" a "nomination of state minister by the South African government".
The letter, which is under an ANN7 letterhead and is signed by Howa - who was then ANN7 group CEO - was addressed to the DRC's ambassador to South Africa, Ben Mpoko. The ambassador yesterday refused to comment on the letter.A train of correspondence reveals how the Guptas hatched a plan to motivate for Atul to be nominated as an honorary consul by claiming that he had gained a position as a South African government minister.
"Mr Atul Kumar Gupta is one of the most reputed businessmen in South Africa. His successful involvement in diverse sectors such as ICT, Mining, Mining Services, Media, hospitality, education and social sector has earned him the nomination of State Minister by the South African government," said Howa in the motivation letter to Mpoko.
But yesterday, Mpoko, whose president, Joseph Kabila, is being hosted today by Zuma on an official government visit in Pretoria, refused to answer any questions about the Gupta letter. "You guys have your own internal Gupta problems; please don't get us involved in your domestic affairs," he said.
Zuma's spokesman, Bongani Ngqulunga, said the Presidency also had no knowledge of the nomination of Atul or the letter.Correspondence between the Guptas, one of their lieutenants, Sahara CEO Ashu Chawla, and TNA employee Asmal Kamal reveals that the Guptas set in motion their plan for DRC influence in April.
Their first motivation, circulated among themselves for the honorary consul position, made no mention of Atul being a South African minister.
Kamal, in the letter to Chawla and Rajesh "Tony" Gupta, wrote: "Atul Gupta is one of the most reputed businessmen in South Africa ... A rough estimate of his family business assets amounts to well above couple of billion US dollars. Mr Gupta commands tremendous respect in business and government sectors. His excellent connections with business community and the government officials can go a long way in expanding business ties between South Africa and DRC.
"Mr Gupta is an integral part of a large number of prestigious organisations and as a result of that he can use the platform to bring South African and DRC business houses together marking a new era in symbiotic relationship."
The letter was signed off by Howa.