PRETORIA, The Hawks — the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) of the South African police — have denied claims that the arrest of the Gupta brothers is imminent after a media reports said they had obtained a warrant for the arrest of at least one of the brothers.

Hawks Spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said here Tuesday they were awaiting a directive from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) has already taken action against two Gupta-linked companies — Trillian and McKinsey — in attempts to recoup 1.6 billion Rand (about 130 million US dollars) in assets related to consultancy work done by the companies for State-owned power utility Eskom and Transnet, the railways, port and pipeline company which is majority-owned by the government.

The Gupta brothers — Ajay, Atul and Rajesh — relocated to South Africa from India in 1993 at the dawn of democracy in this country, when the country was seen as a land of opportunities. Previously small-scale businessmen in India, they built a sprawling empire in South Africa with interests in computers and the mining, media and information technology (IT) sectors.

Their assets were all housed under the listed entity, Oakbay, and their mining asset, Shiva Uranium, was looking forward to the consummation of a deal for South Africa to embark on development of nuclear energy for electricity generation.

They also developed close links with the ruling African National Congress (ANC), and particularly with President Jacob Zuma, well before he became president in 2009.

The Guptas’ relationship with President Jacob Zuma often made headlines as members of the President’s family were employees, shareholders and former directors of Gupta firms.

There has been deep concern that the Guptas enjoy inside knowledge of Cabinet and Executive appointments, and allegedly have influence over the appointment of the heads of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) and Cabinet ministers.

Atul Gupta was listed in the Sunday Times list of richest South Africans with a net worth of 10 billion Rand.

As such, they are the subject of the Public Protector’s State of Capture report into the exercise of undue influence by outside parties on officers of State, from which a judicial commission has been set up, after much legal back and forth.

According to a letter submitted to the Office of the Public Protector (Ombudsman), included in the State of Capture report, total revenues from their business activities for the 2016 financial year amounted to 2.6 billion Rand, with government contracts contributing a total of 235 million Rand of the revenues.

The Gupta family businesses had a fall out with the banks when their accounts were closed. The controversial family made headlines again when they landed a chartered aircraft, carrying Indian politicians and 300 guests at Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria for a Gupta family member’s wedding in 2013.

This was followed by another controversy when the Guptas-owned New Age media group televised business briefings which were sponsored by State-owned enterprises. Reports say SOEs like Transnet forked out 17.5 million Rand for 18 breakfast sessions, while Eskom paid 7.2 million Rand to sponsor six sessions.

It was also reported that Telkom sponsored 12 business breakfasts to the tune of 12 million Rand in the 2012/13 financial year.

And in a series of the Gupta email leaks, it emerged that global consultancy firm McKinsey lined up a 9.4-billion-Rand bonanza from Eskom with the help of Gupta-linked Trillian Capital Partners. The emails also show that after Eskom cancelled the consulting engagement in July 2016, it also paid Trillian 565 million Rand.

This was without any contract in place, but on the basis that Trillian was McKinsey’s empowerment partner, although McKinsey and Trillian had already parted ways.

Now the Pretoria High Court has authorised the freezing of 1.6 billion Rand in assets earned by global consultancy McKinsey and Trillian. The court made the decision in December, after a request by the NPA to freeze the fees earned by McKinsey and local consultancy Trillian for advising Eskom.

Meanwhile, some political parties have welcomed the decision by the Asset Forfeiture Unit to freeze the Gupta family assets. The NPA’s forfeiture unit served a summons to preserve the Gupta’s assets which are worth billions of Rands.