UK imposes sanctions on South Africa's Gupta brothers

Wednesday 28th April 2021 06:01 EDT

The UK government has imposed sanctions on 22 individuals, under a new anti-corruption regime. Individuals from Russia, South Africa, South Sudan and Latin America were target with asset freezes and travel bans. The list includes 14 Russians, and notably, the Gupta brothers of South Africa for serious corruption in the country. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK had an important role to play in combating corruption.

Announcing the sanctions in the House of Commons, Raab said, “Corruption has an immensely corrosive effect on the rule of law, on trust in institutions, it slows development, it drains the wealth of poorer nations, it keeps their people trapped in poverty. It poisons the well of democracy around the world.”

He added, “Our status as a global financial centre makes us an attractive location for investment... but it also makes us a honey pot, a lightning rod for corrupt actors who seek to launder their dirty money through British banks or through British businesses.” The sanctions mean individuals “involved in some of the world's most serious cases of corruption” will no longer be able to channel their money through UK banks or enter the country.

No longer living in South Africa, the Gupta brothers have denied wrongdoing. However, the UK Foreign Office said the three and their associate Salim Essa were “at the heart of a long-running process of corruption in South Africa which caused significant damage to its economy.” So deeply involved in national politics, the brothers were reportedly at the centre of state capture in the country.

The UK Economic Sanction list cites people from six countries, including Sudanese businessman Ashraf Seed Ahmed Hussein Ali. This is the first time the UK has imposed sanctions for international corruption. Raab said the new sanctions regime would “provide an additional powerful tool to hold the corrupt to account.”

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