Guptas deny South Africa bribe meeting

Mecebisi Jonas says he was offered money by Ajay Gupta.

The wealthy family at the heart of South African corruption allegations has denied meeting a top politician, who said he was offered a bribe.

An investigation by South Africa’s anti-corruption body suggested the Gupta family exercised political influence over President Jacob Zuma.

One witness, Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas, said Ajay Gupta offered him money to accept a promotion.

The Guptas welcome a proposed public inquiry in order to clear their name.

“Our cursory reading of [the report] shows the evidence gathered is riddled with errors and is subject to rebuttal,” a statement from the family says.

The report’s author, former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, recommended the establishment of a judicial commission to look into her evidence within 30 days.

She was looking into allegations that Mr Zuma had an improper relationship with the wealthy businessmen.

The Guptas’ lawyer, Gerd van der Merwe said Ms Madonsela did not give his clients the chance to present their evidence during her investigation.

He said the family now wants to be part of the process.

The deputy finance minister is quoted in the report as saying that Mr Gupta offered him 600m rand ($44.6m; £36.2m) last year, ‘to be deposited in an account of his choice’, if he accepted the post of finance minister.

Mr Gupta also asked him if he had “a bag which he could use to receive and carry 600,000 rand in cash ($44,400) immediately”, Mr Jonas alleged, saying that Mr Zuma’s son, Duduzane, was present at the meeting.

Mr Jonas said he did not accept the money.

He was expected to remove key Treasury officials from their posts and advance the Gupta family’s ‘business ambitions.’

The 355-page report by Ms Madonsela is entitled ‘State of Capture’ and is illustrated on its front page with a hand strung with puppet wires.

The president has been dogged by corruption allegations for more than a decade, but has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.