International banks ‘enabled Gupta corruption and looting’ - Peter Hain

Lord tells Zondo commission banks granted family an open door to a global network

International banks enabled Gupta corruption and looting, Peter Hain tells Zondo commission

18 November 2019

Despite the warning signs in the public domain, international banks continued to turn a blind eye by doing business with the Gupta family, enabling them to conduct their affairs and "launder money around the world", the state capture inquiry heard on Monday.

Testifying before inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, British MP Lord Peter Hain said the banks had been "complicit" in assisting the Guptas with corruption and looting.

"The Guptas were very close to former president Jacob Zuma in South Africa and there was increasing awareness of corruption and state capture… rife under the former president's administration, and yet these banks continued to effectively work with the Guptas and enabled them to conduct their affairs and activities and launder their money around the world," Hain told the commission.

He said the Gupta family had used banks such as Standard Chartered, the Bank of Baroda and HSBC to transfer their money around their networks.

He also added that these banks assisted the family by allowing accounts to be opened and, in so doing, granting access to the banks' global network.

"They granted them an open door to an international network through depositing money in global accounts," he said.

"There were lots of warning signs, from the evidence I've seen, that this was happening and, frankly, the banks concerned did not stop it."

He also said the banks should have spotted the red flags and dealt with the family immediately.

Hain, who was born in South Africa, is a former UK Labour Party cabinet minister.

He has written to the UK Chancellor  of the Exchequer Sajid Javid to follow the US' lead and impose a series of debilitating sanctions on the controversial Gupta family, according to News24.

Last month, the US treasury announced that the three Gupta brothers - Ajay, Atul and Tony - as well family lieutenant Salim Essa, had been blocked from transacting, doing business or engaging in any financial dealings with any US entity or person.