Fugitive South African Businessman Spotted in His Hometown in India: Report

The controversial Gupta family of South Africa is reported to be on a pilgrimage to Badrinath in Uttarakhand Himalayas.


Fugitive businessman Ajay Gupta, a member of the controversial Gupta family who have been accused of large-scale corruption in South Africa, was spotted in his hometown of Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, according to the eNCA website.

“They are here specifically for a pilgrimage. They are going to a holy town … around the foothills of the Himalayas. There is a temple that they want to go to on this pilgrimage‚” the publication’s India-based reporter Rebecca Bundhun, who said the source of information was a close friend (believed to be Javed Sabrim) of the Gupta family, was reported as saying on May 14.

The news comes a few days after the Gupta brothers’ nephew Varun Gupta approached Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court, asking for permission to travel out of the country for a religious pilgrimage in the Himalayas. The South African court relaxed his bail conditions and allowed him to travel, on the condition that he has to be back in South Africa by May 27. Varun Gupta faces charges of fraud, theft, conspiracy to commit fraud and theft, contravening the Public Finance Management Act, contravening the Companies Act and contravening sections of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act in the Estina dairy farm project.

The eNCA reported that Gupta was spotted at a hotel in New Delhi last week as the family is reportedly planning to undertake a pilgrimage to the Badrinath temple. Although Indian tax authorities say that the brothers have fraudulently misrepresented their tax returns, Indian Intelligence Bureau on May 11 clarified that it had not issued a “Look Out Circular” for Ajay Gupta. The clarification, which was in Intelligence Bureau’s affidavit submitted to court, came after Ajay Gupta requested an understanding of reports of Look out Circular under the Right to Information Act.

A Look Out Circular is used to flag fugitives and absconded criminals at Indian ports of entry.
When the Indian Intelligence Bureau did not respond within a certain time, Gupta’s attorneys approached the courts, seeking an order to compel it to disclose whether the circular was issued or not.

South Africa has an extradition agreement with India in place.

Ajay Gupta was last seen in Dubai when South African businessman Justin van Pletzen filmed himself confronting a relaxed Gupta outside what was believed to be the Indian consulate. Van Pletzen, who had posted the encounter on the social media, was detained for filming the fugitive businessmen after a complaint from Ajay Gupta himself.

Meanwhile, South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba told the SABC news website that law enforcement agencies are “working hard” to bring the Gupta brothers back to the country. “We are working with the Hawks‚ the police and the prosecutors‚ the National Director of Public Prosecutions‚ in order to bring them back to the country to face their charges‚” he was quoted as saying.

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