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South African police raided Bank of Baroda’s offices on Corruption Case

Bank of Baroda’s offices, on Friday, raided by South African police unit called ‘Hawks’ and seized several documents during an ongoing investigation into corruption that was carried out under former president of South Africa Jacob Zuma, a police spokesman said. Bank of Baroda is set to shut down its activities in South Africa.

The state-run bank was embroiled into the spotlight nearly two years ago when it started working with the Gupta family, Indian-born businesspersons who are at the centre of an influence-peddling scandal surrounding Jacob Zuma.

Bank of Baroda branches have been raided by police in Johannesburg and Durban and seized documents regarding bank transactions involving South African state firms, Hangwani Mulaudzi, a spokesman for the police’s elite “Hawks” unit, said.

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“We are of the view that Bank of Baroda was used as a conduit for the transfer of illicit funds. The raids are happening as part of ‘state capture’ investigations,” Mulaudzi said, using a phrase coined to describe alleged influence-peddling under Zuma.

A Bank of Baroda employee in Durban who picked up the telephone confirmed the Hawks had visited the bank’s premises on Friday.

“This search and seizure operation is not for investigation on Bank of Baroda. This requisition by the Hawks is in relation to the continuing ongoing investigation of the Gupta family,” the bank said in a statement on Saturday.

An inquiry into allegations surrounding Zuma and the Guptas will begin formal public hearings in August and could take two years or more, officials have said.

Police earlier this year raided the compound of the Guptas in Johannesburg as part of an investigation into theft, fraud and money laundering at a state-backed dairy project in the Free State province that was meant to benefit the local community.

The whereabouts of the Gupta brothers is not publicly known. One of the brothers, Ajay Gupta, was declared a “fugitive from justice” after leaving South Africa for Dubai in February.

Zuma was in court on Friday for a separate hearing relating to a $2.5 billion arms deal from the 1990s. He faces 16 charges of fraud, racketeering, corruption and money laundering in that case.


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