South Africa: Gupta brothers’ associate Ronica Ragavan arrested, faces money laundering charges

Indian-origin South African Ronica Ragavan, who played a key role in the activities of the now self-exiled Gupta brothers, who are facing extradition from Dubai for allegedly looting billions of rands, is facing money laundering charges.

Described as a stalwart “lackey” of the Gupta family by former colleagues, Ragavan was arrested together with another Indian-origin employee of the Guptas, Pushpaveni Govender, and former mineral resources department deputy director-general Joel Raphela, who were all granted bail earlier this week.

They face charges of laundering money related to two mining operations once owned by the Gupta family, which has been fingered by the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture as having illegally siphoned off billions from state-owned enterprises, including the cash-strapped national electricity supplier Eskom and rail operator Transnet.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has promised more arrests as they step up their investigations.

”The country can expect more of these priority state capture cases to be enrolled soon. The Investigating Directorate, working with the support of the Hawks, is committed to ensuring that those responsible for corruption and facilitating state capture are held criminally accountable and that it will work steadfastly to claw stolen funds back to the fiscus,” Sindisiwe Seboka, spokesperson for the NPA’s Investigating Directorate, told local media.

The NPA wants to try the Gupta brothers — Ajay, Atul and Rajesh — for their alleged involvement in billions of rands siphoned off from state institutions through their closeness to former President Jacob Zuma.

South Africa is awaiting the outcome of an extradition application to Dubai.

The Guptas, their wives and some other associates have been declared persona non-gratia in the US and the UK.

Among the allegations made at the Commission were that the Guptas informed people about imminent cabinet positions even before Zuma did so as president.

The three arrested Gupta associates are accused of looting 107.5 million rands from the environmental rehabilitation trust funds of the Optimum and Koornfontein mines, which were purchased by the Gupta family from Eskom in a bailout operation.

The mining companies, as well as other Gupta businesses, went into business rescue when all banks, including the Bank of Baroda (BoB), closed all their accounts after news of the state looting broke.

Ragavan’s meteoric rise from an administrative position at the Gupta head office in Johannesburg to director of several of its companies and acting CEO of all its operations when the family fled the country in 2016 raised some eyebrows.

Ragavan was one of the co-accused in a separate trial related to money laundering for a failed dairy farm project in Free State province, which was allegedly used to fund the multi-million-rand wedding of a Gupta scion at Sun City.

She is also noted for having attempted to force BoB to retain accounts of Gupta companies when all South African banks refused to deal with them. BoB subsequently shut down its South African operations, citing a global downscaling as the reason.

Ragavan had also initiated a BoB home loan application for one of the wives of former president Zuma, who is currently facing a long-delayed corruption trial.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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