Who are Atul and Rajesh Gupta? Dubai Arrests Indian Origin Business Tycoons Over Alleged S. Africa Loot

The brothers managed to steal almost 500 billion rand from South Africa's state-owned companies

Two brothers of a wealthy Indian family, accused of siphoning money from South Africa's state -owned companies with the former President Jacob Zuma, were arrested in Dubai.

According to South Africa's Justice Ministry, extradition talks are currently held with UAE. The news of the arrest is a major win for the country as there were years of unsuccessful attempts to apprehend these 'fugitives of justice', who managed to steal at least 500 billion rand ($32 billion) during Zuma's nine-year rule.

Gupta brothers and Zuma

Arrival in South Africa

The brothers Ajay, Atul, and Rajesh, (also known as Tony) Gupta, first came to South Africa in 1993 from India as their father, Shiv Kumar Gupta, believed that Africa will be the next "America of the world." Atul managed to set up the family business Sahara Computers (no links to the Indian conglomerate), and the company soon boasted over more than 10 thousand employees with a turnover of about 200 million rand ($22m).

Wealth of the Guptas

Their family Sahara Estate in the wealthy Saxonwold suburb in Johannesburg included at least 4 mansions, with a helicopter pad. Apart from this, the brothers also owned the home of Sir Mark Thatcher, son of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Cape Town. Their estate now values at approximately 52m rand ($3.4m; £2.3m).

In 2016, Ajay Gupta was named the seventh-wealthiest person in South Africa with an estimated net worth of 10.7 billion Rand ($773.47 million)

Gupta brothers and Zuma
Atul and Rajesh Gupta Twitter

With their interests in mining, air travel, energy, technology as well as media. They met South Africa's ex-President Zuma more than 10 years ago "when he was a guest in one of Sahara's annual functions," as per BBC.

Links with Zuma

One of the president's wives, Bongi Ngema-Zuma, used to work as a communications officer for the Gupta-controlled JIC Mining Services as a communications officer. Zuma's daughter, Duduzile Zuma was a director at Sahara Computers. His son was also served as a director in some company owned by the Indian brothers.

As the ties between Zuma and the brothers thickened, they were soon accused of exercising political control extensively in the South African government, so as to advance their business interests and boost profits. They became so closely linked that at one point they were referred to as the Zuptas.

Gupta brothers and Zuma
Former President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma Twitter


The first incident came to light in 2016 when Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas said that he was offered a Minster's post by the Gupta family in 2015.

According to the BBC, The family was also accused of firing ministers, who intentionally or unintentionally, might have had a negative impact in the family's business. One of the most talked about firings was of former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who later accused the brothers of being involved in "suspicious" transactions worth about $490m (£400m).

Many similar allegations were made against the Gupta family and Zuma with numerous witnesses claiming that they worked hand-in-hand to embezzle money out of state transport, power and arms companies and even had discussions on who was to be appointed in the cabinet. The family and Zuma continued denying all allegations until the situation got out of hand.

Gupta brothers and Zuma
South Africans protesting against the Gupta brothers Twitter

The brothers fled to the UAE in 2016 and Zuma was forced to resign from his position as the President in 2018, after facing intense pressure from his own party, the African National Congress.

Situation Now

An extradition treaty was initiated with UAE by South Africa in 2021, which was ratified by the former. This year in March, the Interpol issued red notices against Atul and Rajesh, for looting billions of rands from South Africa's state-owned companies. It is not clear why the third brother Ajay was not taken into consideration.

As per the Daily Maverick, the South African lawyers are already in the UAE to work on the case, but there is no official confirmation released with regards to charges against the brothers.