NEWS

Atul Gupta: Leaked State Capture Emails Are 'Not Authentic'

He also claimed the family and British PR firm Bell Pottinger played no role in pushing a white monopoly capital agenda.

01/08/2017 16:32 SAST | Updated 01/08/2017 16:43 SAST
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Atul Gupta.

Atul Gupta has denied the family's involvement in perpetuating the ideology of white monopoly capital through the services of British PR firm, Bell Pottinger.

He also said the claims against the family with regards to state capture had no authenticity.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Atul Gupta said he does not know where the white monopoly capital narrative comes from.

"We always have some companies who are doing some sort of PR and Bell Pottinger is one of the PR companies in the group. I don't know what this narrative comes from. White monopoly capital, if you go research any revolutionary speech in this country [South Africa], always existed. I don't know where any of these terms come from," he said.

Asked about inciting racial tension, Atul said "there's nothing like that".

"I don't know where this narrative comes from. I don't think so it belongs to anyone of our professional advisors... I will be shocked. They [Bell Pottinger] are very credible people. I believe they should not do anything like that, neither us nor them," he said.

"There's no authenticity of Gupta leaks at all. It is perception mongering to drive their own agenda. I really do not know where they are coming from."

But the radio station also interviewed Lord Bell, the previous CEO of Bell Pottinger, and he said there was a clear campaign by the Guptas to "mount a campaign to encourage black economic empowerment".

"I thought the Guptas were a controversy too far. I said so, but I was ignored by my colleagues", said Bell. "The first meeting was listening to Tony Gupta telling us how wonderful he was... We spent the evening discussing what we would do and it became quite clear that what they wanted to do was mount a campaign to encourage black economic empowerment. He never asked us to handle the PR for Oakbay. He never talked about doing PR for them," Bell told the station.

"The proposal suggested we should do various things including organize people to march, to give demonstration, to make a fuss that they got the vote in 1994 but they hadn't got economic power."

But the firm's current boss, James Henderson, told BBC Radio 4 that there was no intention of collaborating with corruption.

"We were trying to do a good job for a client in managing their reputation and defending them from a number of accusations, some of which were within the political arena... It's not about the money, this account has cost us reputationally," he said.

"We have been targeted by a number of political parties, all of our employees have been personally targeted with death threats. It would be wrong to say we made money from this account in any way."

He said his team on the account were trying to "highlight an issue in largely a very responsible way".

"There was no intention to play with race, there was an intention to highlight a very real issue. Knowing what I know now, they got involved in a situation that was much more political than they anticipated at the time," he said.