South African Fund Manager Puts Up Bounty in Hunt for the GuptasBy
Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka offering more than $77,000 reward
Location of Ajay Gupta, one of three brothers, still unknown
Magda Wierzycka, the outspoken head of Cape Town-based Sygnia Asset Management, is so keen to see those who are accused of looting South Africa’s coffers brought to justice that she’s offering hundreds of thousands of rand of her own money to secure their arrests.
For information leading to the whereabouts and arrest of fugitive Ajay Gupta, Wierzycka said she’d pay out 500,000 rand ($43,000). She’s also pledged 200,000 rand to the first Gupta bodyguard who calls the authorities to reveal his location, and another 200,000 rand for the first person to turn state’s witness in a case involving dairy cows and a farm that was allegedly used as a front to siphon money to Gupta and his two brothers.
The Gupta family has been accused of using its friendship with former President Jacob Zuma and his son Duduzane to secure all manner of state favors from mining contracts to choosing cabinet ministers to landing their aircraft at high-security military airbases. With Zuma now deposed, the country’s prosecutors are starting what may be the lengthy task of probing allegations against the family and last week arrested eight people, but not a Gupta brother among them, for the cow scam.
The scandal is alleged to have involved the state leasing a farm to a Gupta-linked firm and then transferring 220 million rand of public funds to that company. Zuma and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing.
So far, Wierzycka’s money appears to be safe. Ajay Gupta was last spotted in India on Friday before getting on a plane to fly no one knows where. His brother Atul confirmed in court documents that he’s outside the country. There’s no update on Rajesh Gupta’s location and there’s been no sign that the bodyguards are giving up their clients, nor that there are any snitches among the cow farmers. Still, Wierzycka says her offer is good till the end of the month for anyone looking to make more cash than most South Africans earn in a year.