How The Gupta Brothers Hijacked South Africa Using Bribes Instead Of Bullets

Karan Mahajan in Vanity Fair:

The three Gupta brothers—Ajay, Atul, and Rajesh—had bought the Optimum Coal Mine in December 2015, adding it to the tentacular empire they were building across South Africa, with interests in uranium deposits, media outlets, computer companies, and arms suppliers. The miners, the union leader told me, would watch as the Guptas landed their helicopter in the parched soccer field with its rusty goalposts, only to swagger around with their gun-toting white bodyguards and take their kids to the mine vents without protective gear. Sometimes, when the brothers were in a magnanimous mood, they would dole out fistfuls of cash to miners who had been particularly obsequious that day. At the same time, they cut corners viciously. Health insurance and pensions were slashed. Broken machines were patched up with old parts from other machines. Safety regulations were flouted.

Then, a few months after the Guptas bought the mine, a tectonic corruption scandal upended South Africa. A government official testified that the Guptas had offered him the position of finance minister; the three brothers, it turned out, had effectively seized control of the state apparatus. It was, to date, one of the most audacious and lucrative scams of the century. Drawing on their close ties to President Jacob Zuma—and with the help of leading international firms like KPMG, McKinsey, and SAP—the Guptas may have drained the national treasury of as much as $7 billion. Zuma was forced to resign. McKinsey offered an extraordinary public apology for its role in the scandal. The Guptas fled to Dubai. And the mine, which the brothers had obtained in a corrupt deal brokered and financed by the government, tipped into bankruptcy.

More here.

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