South Africa's former president Jacob Zuma to face trial for corruption

FILE Former President Jacob Zuma and Atul Gupta

The US Treasury announced sanctions Thursday on South Africa's Gupta family and associate Salim Essa, calling them a "significant corruption network" that dispersed bribes and misappropriated millions in state funds.

Mr Zuma was president from 2009 to 2018, when he was forced to resign by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party amid separate allegations of corruption linked to the controversial Gupta family.

"The Gupta family strategically overpaid for government contracts then funneled a portion of the over-payment into donations to a South African political party".

The Gupta family and one associate were officially sanctioned by the United States Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on 10 October 2019.

Welcoming the US decision, South Africa's Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, said the action would ensure that the country's interests of justice unfold without any hindrance.

"The Guptas and Essa have used their influence with prominent politicians and parties to line their pockets with ill-gotten gains". Furthermore, these sanctions will ensure that companies or individuals are prohibited from conducting any business in the U.S. or with any American company worldwide, the ministry said in a statement.

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"Today's sanctions announcement demonstrates the USA government's unwavering commitment to supporting the rule of law and accountability in South Africa", the Treasury said.

She said that the sanctions supported South Africa's fight against corruption. "It is incomprehensible that not a single individual responsible for State Capture has been arrested, let alone charged and hauled before the courts".

"Instead, the Ramaphosa-administration has awarded those involved in the looting of our state coffers". They relocated to South Africa in 1993, just as white minority rule was ending and the country was opening up to the rest of the world. They have interests in mining, air travel, energy, technology and media.

In a public hearing, Zuma denied he had presided over an vast system of corruption and patronage that drained billions from the country's exchequer, and told the inquiry that he was the victim of a plot by foreign intelligence agencies to seek his downfall.

South African former President Jacob Zuma will stand trial on corruption charges relating to a $2.5 billion arms deal after court denied him a permanent stay of prosecution on Friday.

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