South Africa’s wanted fugitives Guptas are now citizens of Vanuatu

(L-R) Former president Jacob Zuma, Atul Gupta and former Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kieviet.

South Africa’s Director-General of the justice department advocate Dr Mashabane said on Friday they only just learnt that the Guptas are citizens of Vanuatu in the Pacific islands.

“In the communication we received, the judgment makes reference to the Guptas being citizens of a country called Vanuatu in the Pacific islands.

“This was a new development for us because previously their status was that they were carrying South African citizenship.

“I think that this is a critical development as well that the UAE court recorded them as being citizens of Vanuatu.”

Since the state capture scandal, several of the Guptas’ assets in South Africa have been frozen by the state, including a private jet, their mansion in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, and one in Constantia, Cape Town.

They left South Africa for Dubai after being wanted in South Africa to face criminal charges on two matters — the so-called Nulane and Estina cases.

The Guptas had been fingered as linchpins of the widespread looting of state funds during the tenure of former President Jacob Zuma that has contributed to the country’s broken economy.

An investigator estimated that the Guptas, who fled to the UAE about five years ago, secured at least US$3.2 billion worth of business through a vast network of corporations and government connections.

The Guptas have denied any wrongdoing and said that they are the victims of political infighting.

Meanwhile, Vanuatu’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) had advised Vanuatu’s Citizenship Office of the hostile information against corruption-accused fugitive Gupta brothers – Atul and Rajesh – on two separate occasions in 2018. This was disclosed when the FIU issued a statement to clarify its position on the controversial issue of the Gupta brothers now being Vanuatu citizens.