POLITICS
14/02/2018 10:42 SAST | Updated 14/02/2018 10:42 SAST

What The Guptas Have Been Telling Their Lawyer

The Hawks conducted an early-morning raid on the Guptas' Saxonwold compound. This is what Ajay Gupta told his lawyer earlier.

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Ajay Gupta and lawyer Ahmed Gani have been meeting almost daily recently, HuffPost understands. Gani confirmed on Wednesday — after the Hawks raided the Gupta family home in Saxonwold, Johannesburg — that he was meeting the Gupta brothers for a consultation.

According to notes from previous consultations between Ajay Gupta and Gani seen by HuffPost, the family is likely to adopt a position of denial in relation to the various allegations of state capture they face. Ajay Gupta plans to deny that the family has been illegally enriched, that they had a close relationship with Brian Molefe when he was Eskom boss, and that the #GuptaLeaks emails are real.

The Hawks conducted an early-morning raid on the Gupta residence in Saxonwold, Johannesburg. The raid is in connection with the Vrede dairy farm project in the Free State.

But while investigative journalists have mapped a massive corporate empire of interlocking interests, Ajay Gupta told his lawyers that he has virtually no assets.

"No, on record I can say that I am not a shareholder of any company, I don't have any assets in any part of the world, except the room my father used to sleep [in], personally that's all [I have].

"I don't have any share, any board [position], any property, any fixed property, whatever you call that. Maybe one car or something, I only have that one room my father used to sleep [in]."

In her "State of Capture" report, former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela revealed that she had found evidence of 58 calls between Ajay Gupta and former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe. This was regarded as evidence of collusion and a close crony relationship as the Guptas ramped up their business with Eskom.

But Ajay Gupta told his lawyers that he and Molefe made no more than 14 calls over a much longer period. "It was maybe one call a month. Less than a second or five seconds."

The family's patriarch also tried to put distance between himself and Molefe. In another note, he says: "Maybe one time, I bump into him at the airport or something... and I remember just 'hello, hello' nothing [else]. Just one word."

While reporters have revealed the dodgy business practices of the Gupta family for over a decade, the revelations in the #Guptaleaks emails sealed their fate. The tranche of emails provided an X-ray into the family's empire of capture: it showed details of how they seduced politicians into their network with trips to Dubai.

"Whether it's [the emails] doctored or not, I still have no issue. I'm very much sure, 100% sure that we did not do anything wrong..." Ajay Gupta told his lawyers.

Rapport/Elizabeth Sejake
Ajay Gupta pictured at the Optimum coal mine recently.

"...one more interesting thing, you please note it down. I never did email in my life. I am illiterate. I don't know how to do the SMS, even, forget about, even WhatsApps or anything. My secretary receives the email and she opens it, she prints it and brings it to me if it comes to that," said Ajay Gupta who is regarded as the mastermind of the family empire and is said to be the cleverest brother.

Gani told HuffPost earlier on Wednesday that he will be consulting with the Gupta brothers in the course of the morning.