Gupta media units made R260m in government advertising

By Nkululeko Ncana and Mike Cohen

(Bloomberg) – Media companies founded by the Gupta family in South Africa earned about R260.3 million ($17.2 million) in government advertising, according to evidence presented to an inquiry into alleged corruption during the tenure of former President Jacob Zuma.

Allies of the three brothers secured control over key posts in the government communications service and then directed advertising to the family’s newspaper and television station, witnesses told the judicial panel, headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. The Guptas are at the centre of the hearing into state capture, a local term for the looting of taxpayer funds and bribing of officials.

Payments to firms including TV station ANN7 and newspaper New Age accelerated dramatically from 2011 and peaked at R66.2 million in 2016, Jan Gilliland, a National Treasury official who tracked the payments, told the inquiry in Johannesburg on Monday. The Guptas are friends of Zuma’s and were in business with his son, Duduzane.

The family sold the media businesses last year to a company owned by Mzwanele Manyi, the former head of the government communications service. They have since shut down. Zuma, who quit under pressure from the ruling party in February, his son, the Guptas and Manyi have all denied wrongdoing.