The Guptas’ capture of SA could have been stopped 12 years ago if the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had prosecuted a R120m exchange-control, tax and customs fraud case linked to the family. The prosecuting authority now says it cannot explain how it happened because the file has been destroyed. In 2001, Gupta-owned Sahara Computers and another company, Trump Technology (an alleged front for Sahara), were investigated by the then Scorpions for exchange control contraventions and value-added tax (VAT) and customs fraud committed between at least 1999 and 2001. There appear to have been two investigations, which were eventually joined into a single docket, which resided with the Scorpions at the time. The investigation was apparently concluded in 2003, but the NPA declined to prosecute almost two years later, in 2005. The rise of Sahara Computers was a critical chapter in the growth of the Gupta empire and led to the emergence of Oakbay, the vehicle at the centre of many state c...

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