Arrest warrant withdrawn for Zuma friend Guptas

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa has provisionally withdrawn an arrest warrant for Ajay Gupta, a businessman and friend of former president Jacob Zuma, police said on Friday, in a setback for the government’s promised fight against corruption.

Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas accused Gupta of offering him a large bribe and the position of finance minister if he would help the Gupta family with business ventures in South Africa.

Gupta denied wrongdoing and fought the accusation through his lawyers after prosecutors opened cases against him and Zuma’s son Duduzane, in whose presence Gupta allegedly offered Jonas the bribe and cabinet post.

“The warrant for Ajay Gupta was provisionally withdrawn,” said Hangwani Mulaudzi, a spokesman for the Hawks police unit, without elaborating on the reason for the withdrawal.

“But it can be reinstated.”

South African prosecutors provisionally withdrew charges against Duduzane Zuma last month.

A lawyer for Gupta did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Gupta and his family have denied there was anything untoward in their relationship with former president Zuma, but their ties are being investigated in an influence-peddling inquiry that could take months or years to be concluded.

The Gupta family’s whereabouts are not publicly known.

They left South Africa last year, around the time that Jacob Zuma resigned under pressure from the ruling African National Congress. His successor President Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed to root out corruption in Africa’s most advanced economy.

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