Johannesburg: Lamborghini. Maserati. Bentley. Porsche. Lexus. These are just some of the luxury brand names of more than 20 vehicles that a South African civil society group says were registered to the politically connected Gupta family’s upmarket Johannesburg address.
As prosecuting authorities move to investigate the three Gupta brothers, seizing the fancy cars would be one of the ways for South Africa to try and recoup state funds that were allegedly looted by the family, said the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA). OUTA said the list of vehicles was compiled by scouring the so-called Gupta Leaks, a trove of more than 1 million documents that detail the family’s dealings.
Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta have been accused of using a friendship with former President Jacob Zuma and a business relationship with his son Duduzane to try and influence cabinet appointments and secure lucrative state contracts. None of the siblings appear to be in South Africa and while the state has moved to prosecute Gupta associates in the days since Zuma was ousted, it’s unclear how the country will recover the billions of rand that are allegedly missing. Zuma and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing.
Admirably, the Guptas’ deluxe cars were registered to pay e-tolls, the road-tax system set up around Johannesburg and Pretoria most drivers refuse to pay, according to OUTA, which made its name by opposing the project.
Apart from the cars, there are other assets that could be seized. Planes, helicopters, a plethora of properties, media businesses, another 80 cars at other addresses and mining companies also make up some of the now crumbling Gupta empire, according to OUTA’s research. Bloomberg