Just weeks after the Indian bank, Bank of Baroda, announced it will be exiting the country in March, a new report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Project has detailed how deeply involved the bank was in the Gupta scandal.
South African authorities have said that they are looking to recover about R50 billion lost through Guptas’ deals.
According to the investigation carried out by the Organised Crime and Corruption Project, the Bank of Baroda’s South African branch was aware of how the Gupta brothers were misusing their accounts in the bank to further state capture.
The report claims the bank reportedly allowed them to move hundreds of millions of dollars originating from suspect deals into offshore accounts.
The report also alleges that Bank of Baroda issued unapproved back-to-back loans and loan guarantees, dismissed internal compliance efforts, and prevented regulators from learning about transactions – all in a bid to benefit the Guptas.
The report also says that some of these transactions include transfers that have no apparent legal or business purpose. Many of these transactions were allegedly used to disguise the origin of the money in question.
A bulk of these large transfers were done through the firm Sahara, which is the oldest company started by the Guptas.
Allegedly about R4.5 billion was transferred among a few companies between 2007 and 2017 and the amount of cash flowing through the Gupta accounts was so large that it dominated transactions of the entire Bank of Baroda branch.
It is claimed some of these transfers also benefited Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane.
This investigation also lends credence to claims that the Guptas used the bank to funnel money outside the country- because there are transactions that show money being transferred to United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and even the United States.
The bank has denied any wrongdoing and has said that its branch in South Africa followed the rules of the land and that there is no intentional wrongdoing.
In India, there are already reports that claim that the Bank of Baroda’s South African head Sanjiv Gupta may soon face disciplinary action for this role in the scam.