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US Treasury blocks Russian oligarch’s $1bn trust; Russia withdraws troops from Snake Island

Ukrainian officials are exploring the possibility of debt restructuring as the war-ravaged country’s funding options are at risk of running out, according to three people familiar with the discussions.
The US plans to announce an additional $800-million in defence assistance for Ukraine, President Joe Biden said at the Nato summit in Madrid, which concluded with support for Sweden and Finland’s bids for membership. The US Treasury Department said it blocked a trust holding more than $1-billion in assets tied to a Russian oligarch.
Russia confirmed it withdrew troops from a strategically important island in the Black Sea, after Ukraine said they were forced to leave by its missile and artillery strikes. Moscow framed the move as a gesture toward facilitating grain exports from Ukraine. Russia also banned rice exports through the end of the year, Interfax reported.
Key developments
Ukraine considering debt restructuring options as payments loom
Russia withdraws troops from Snake Island after Ukraine strikes
Oil set for first monthly drop this year as Opec+ hikes supply
Lawmakers slam London’s ‘dirty money’ habit and UK sanctions
On the ground
As the largest-scale military operation in Europe since World War 2 continues in its fifth month, Russia pressed ahead with its goal of occupying Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Kremlin forces are closing in on Lysychansk, Ukraine’s last major foothold in Luhansk. The region’s governor described the situation as “extremely difficult” with evacuations not possible and Russian troops at the city’s outskirts. Russia fired two missiles at Odesa but damage was limited. Russia continued to strike targets far from the eastern front, keeping up a volume and intensity that’s risen since last weekend.
World Bank provides €447m for Ukraine’s budget
Ukraine received €447-million from the World Bank to support budget expenditures and state governance, the Finance Ministry said on its website. Most of the loan, €424.6-million, is guaranteed by the UK, according to the statement.
The funds will support financing for state sector employees, including in education, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko said.
US blocks oligarch’s $1bn trust
The US Treasury Department said it’s blocking a Delaware-based trust containing more than $1-billion of assets linked to Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov.
“This action ensures that those assets remain blocked and inaccessible to Kerimov,” the Treasury Department said in an announcement on the issuance of a notification of blocked property to Heritage Trust. Kerimov “holds a property interest” in the trust, according to the statement.
Kerimov is a Russian gold billionaire who was first sanctioned by Washington in 2018. ...

Doctors Without Borders mobilised to save lives in deadly Afghanistan quake aftermath

The earthquake that struck the provinces of Khost and Paktika in Afghanistan on Wednesday, 22 June has left hundreds dead and many without homes. Doctors Without Borders has sent medical and logistical staff to assist communities in need.
In the aftermath of the earthquake that struck the provinces of Khost and Paktika in Afghanistan on Wednesday, 22 June, Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières/MSF) has dispatched teams to provide medical and logistical assistance in the worst-affected areas.
The disaster caused hundreds of deaths and widespread infrastructure damage. In the weeks to come, it could see an exacerbation of existing health issues in the region due to damaged water and sanitation facilities, said Gaetan Drossart, operational coordinator for Doctors Without Borders.
The initial earthquake hit in the early hours of Wednesday with a magnitude of 6.1, reported Reuters. It struck about 44km from the city of Khost, capital of Khost province, near the border with Pakistan. It was estimated to have killed 1,000 people, with more than 600 injured.
An aftershock with a magnitude of 4.3 caused further deaths and destruction on Friday, 24 June.
Read in Daily Maverick: “Afghanistan seeks help for earthquake survivors as aftershock kills five”
Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders has run projects in Afghanistan for more than 40 years and works with more than 2,500 staff in the region. In response to the most recent crisis, 20 personnel were dispatched to Barmal, in Paktika province, with support from a project team in Khost, according to Drossart.
“In Barmal . MSF has set up a 24-hour eight-bed clinic where patients are stabilised until they can be referred for further care,” said Seipati Moloi, special projects media liaison coordinator for Doctors Without Borders.
The organisation is also supporting outpatient care, with a counsellor providing psychological first aid to survivors.
“Surgical staff and a midwife left Khost on Saturday to further reinforce the team,” said Moloi.
The initial response to the crisis was geared towards trauma injuries, largely caused by collapsing houses during the earthquake. Now, just over a week later, the focus has shifted to primary healthcare stabilisation and prevention of infection, said Drossart.
“In the early days after an earthquake, trauma injuries such as broken bones and wounds are the biggest concern, but now health needs are turning to dehydration and diarrhoea caused by a lack of safe water,” said José Mas, emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders.
Drossart confirmed that Doctors Without Borders is monitoring other medical needs ...

The Monkey and the Grenade: How the crisis in Ukraine ends

Unlike South Africa, Ukraine’s basic services keep functioning despite it being in the midst of an all-out war. The power stays on and the trains keep running, whatever the Russians throw at them. There are huge tailbacks at the borders, but this illustrates at least as much an economy hungry for trade and frustrated by the closure of its Azov and Black Sea ports as it is border and logistics inefficiency.
“We are fighting for our country and Western values,” explain Ukrainians. “And we won’t stop.”
More than anything, it is this sense of patriotism and resourcefulness – and a little bit of help from Ukraine’s friends – that is likely to determine the war’s outcome.
The British spy George Blake, who defected to the Soviet Union, said just before his death in 2020 that spies now have “the difficult and critical mission” of saving the world “in a situation when the danger of nuclear war and the resulting self-destruction of humankind again have been put on the agenda by irresponsible politicians. It’s a true battle between good and evil.”
Blake, who went over to the Russian side while a prisoner during the Korean War, may have inadvertently been describing Vladimir Putin’s irresponsible assault on Ukraine.
Unless the Russian leader wanted another Cold War, he has (so far) failed dramatically in strategic terms: first, in his aim to “liberate” Ukrainians from their government, and second, to curtail Nato’s enlargement.
With Finland and Sweden joining, he now has a much larger Nato on his borders – a 1,340km longer Nato, to be precise. He has ignited a fierce Ukrainian patriotism.
I have driven through more than 3,500km of Ukraine north to south over the past three months: there is scarcely a building without Ukrainian flags, banners, posters and painted walls.
How might this war end?
The presence of such nationalism, shaped by the anvil of conflict and genocide under the Holodomor perpetrated by Stalin in the 1930s – in which millions of Ukrainians died of starvation due to the confiscation of their wheat – reduces the scenario options.
Those scenarios, which have Russia maintaining control over all or some of the roughly 20% of Ukrainian territory now occupied, can only be temporary – the conflict frozen, but unresolved.
The challenge for Ukraine is not only in stopping Russia grinding out its advances – for which heavier precision Western weaponry is required – but finding the means to remove them.
Unlike Russia, which has ...

Nato boosts troops on high alert and issues formal invitations to Finland and Sweden to join alliance

Nato laid out plans to boost forces in Europe by placing about 300,000 troops on high alert to counter Russian aggression as leaders from the 30-member military alliance held talks in Madrid.
Finland and Sweden were formally invited to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) during the group’s summit in the Spanish capital, Madrid, after Turkey dropped its opposition, all but ensuring Nato’s expansion on Russia’s doorstep.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo met in Ukraine with President Volodymyr Zelensky, becoming the first Asian leader to visit since the Russian invasion. Widodo, who will host this year’s Group of 20 summit, was due to visit Russia on Thursday. He offered to bring a message from Zelensky to Putin, according to a statement.
Key developments
Nato allies back Sweden, Finland bid to join alliance
Sweden, Finland make cut for Nato after coffee-break reset
Nato to boost troop levels in biggest overhaul since Cold War
Nato finds embrace in China’s backyard, stoking Xi’s worst fears
‘They do not want us,’ Ukraine says of Nato as leaders meet
As G7 talks about price caps, Russian oil gets more expensive
Putin visits ‘friendly’ Central Asia on first trip during war
On the ground
Kremlin forces are pressing ahead with their goal of occupying all of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The Russian military is closing in on Lysychansk, Kyiv’s last major foothold in the Luhansk region. Russian missiles continued to strike Ukrainian cities away from the front lines, keeping up a barrage that has intensified over the last several days.
UK could help secure shipping routes for grain
British surveillance aircraft could help Ukraine get grain out of the country by securing shipping routes, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told reporters in a briefing at Nato.
Rivet Joint or P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft could be used in areas of the Black Sea to protect ships in leaving Ukraine’s blockaded ports, Wallace said. Turkey, which controls access to key straits of the Black Sea, is trying to “hammer out details” with Russia, along with the United Nations, about allowing Ukrainian grain ships to leave, he added.
Wallace played down chances of Royal Navy warships being sent to the Black Sea: “That would mean we would ask the Turks to lift the blockade on foreign warships or warships from other fleets.”
US sees long way to go on freeing up Ukraine grain
The US thinks efforts to free up Ukrainian grain for global markets still have a long way to go, National Security Council spokesman ...

Biodiversity is in crisis worldwide and time is running out

Tackling biodiversity loss requires ambitious political leadership and will from countries. Without this, the world stares into a bleak future.
Nature is at a tipping point. Over the past century, human activities have destroyed nature at an alarming rate. The 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services highlighted that around one million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction, underlining the precarious situation we humans find ourselves in.
It is a serious indictment on the global community that the Aichi Biodiversity Targets — an ambitious set of global goals aimed at protecting and conserving global biodiversity by 2020 — were not achieved. In the past three years, the focus of governments and non-government stakeholders has been to craft a new framework to save nature in the next decade.
Dubbed the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the new plan is being negotiated — through a series of working groups and technical consultations — with a view to getting it finalised and endorsed during the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity, scheduled for December 2022 in Montreal, Canada (COP15).
Catastrophic failure
The fourth Open Ended Working Group (OEWG 4) held in Nairobi, Kenya, last week has catastrophically failed to agree on text for a new deal for nature.
Government delegations came to Nairobi to agree, among other things, on targets to save species, ensure robust and well-connected ecosystems, include the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities as well as a financing mechanism for implementation.
However, whereas some progress was made in Nairobi, it was painfully slow across the whole framework, three years after the first working group meeting was held in Nairobi in August 2019.
Also notable is the fact that most of the GBF text across the mission, goals and targets was left in square brackets, signalling a deep lack of consensus among government negotiators in Nairobi. This means that there is still a lot of work for the parties and stakeholders ahead of Montreal to “lift the brackets”, as many civil society organisations are now calling for.
COP15 Montreal
Ahead of COP15 in Montreal, nothing short of high-level political intervention will unlock the deadlock, which — in one part — is driven by countries looking only at their national interests, rather than the good of nature and humanity.
We call upon world leaders to prioritise nature and push for an ambitious deal at COP15. Anything short of ...

Ramaphosa warns G7 leaders of new aim for patent waiver on Covid therapeutics and diagnostics

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s warning to the G7 followed what he called the success of South Africa, India and other countries in the campaign they led to secure a World Trade Organization TRIPS waiver of the patent rights of international pharmaceutical companies for their Covid-19 vaccines.
After winning what he called a success on Covid vaccines, President Cyril Ramaphosa has warned the leaders of the G7 rich countries that he will remain on their case to support another “TRIPS waiver” – to suspend the intellectual property rights of international pharmaceutical companies over their Covid therapeutics and diagnostics so that developing countries could manufacture these without the authorisation of the patent holders.
Ramaphosa said South Africa, India and other countries were “celebrating the success of achieving a TRIPS waiver” on 17 June 2022 when the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed to suspend patent rights of the pharma companies for their Covid vaccines. This waiver has received mixed reviews, with some health rights activists dismissing it as a “very bad deal”, while others in the South African pharma industry welcomed it as “balanced” but also warned that many bridges still had to be crossed before it could be practically implemented in Africa.
Ramaphosa reminded G7 leaders at their just-completed summit in Schloss Elmau, Germany that some of them had at first resisted the waiver of these Covid vaccine patent rights – which are governed by the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
However, “we finally got them to concede that there should be a waiver”, Ramaphosa told the government information service, GCIS. But he added that he had warned the G7 leaders at the summit that the WTO concession on vaccines should be just the foundation for further concessions on Covid-19 therapeutics and diagnostics, which the WTO will decide on in six months.
Read in Daily Maverick: “World Trade Organisation urged to scrap ‘limiting’ TRIPS waiver”
He had also told the G7 that South Africa and other developing countries wanted the G7 countries and their various associations to buy vaccines that are made in Africa for their own citizens as well as for other African countries to which they may donate. Ramaphosa said the G7 leaders had agreed to do that. He was clearly referring to the South African company Aspen Pharmacare’s failure so far to secure any orders for the J&J Covid vaccine it recently began manufacturing under licence in Gqeberha.
Stavros Nicolaou, Aspen’s group ...

Nobel laureate Maria Ressa vows to fight order to shut down Philippine site Rappler

MANILA, June 29 (Reuters) - Philippine Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa pledged on Wednesday to fight an order by the corporate regulator to shut down her online news site Rappler, known for its critical reporting of President Rodrigo Duterte's policies.
The ruling against Rappler, handed down by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday, comes at a time when activists and journalists fear there will be no let-up in challenges to press freedom under the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos, who begins his term on Thursday.
“We will continue to do our jobs. Our reporters will continue to hold the line, will continue to report, and will continue to demand that access is there,” Ressa told a media briefing, in which she described the SEC decision as “intimidation”.
On Tuesday, the SEC affirmed its 2018 ruling rescinding the operating licence of Rappler for violating foreign equity restrictions on domestic media when it sold depositary rights to a foreign entity.
Rappler had argued the Omidyar Network, the philanthropic arm of EBay founder Pierre Omidyar, was a silent investor. Omidyar cut ties by donating the depository receipts to Rappler’s staff.
“We strongly disagree with the (SEC’s) decision,” Rappler lawyer Francis Lim told the media briefing, adding there were legal remedies to question the decision and that the SEC could not enforce the order pending an appeal.
Rappler CEO @mariaressa and lawyer Francis Lim hold a press briefing on SEC decision. #DefendPressFreedom #CourageON #HoldTheLine
Watch here:
Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) June 29, 2022
Asked about the SEC’s decision, a member of the communications team of president-elect Marcos said: “No comment for now.”
Marcos had shied away from debates and interviews in the presidential campaign, with critics complaining he has been inaccessible to media and some foreign journalists reporting they were denied accreditation for campaign events.
Ressa shared the 2021 Peace Prize with Russian investigative journalist Dmitry Muratov, a move widely seen as an intended endorsement of free speech rights under fire worldwide.
Ressa is currently on bail after being convicted in 2020 for cyber libel in one of several cases against the website filed by government agencies.
“This is an effort to shut up Nobel laureate Maria Ressa, and shut down Rappler, by hook or by crook,” Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said of the SEC order.
The Philippines ranked 147 out of 180 countries in the 2022 World Press Freedom Index, and the Committee to Protect Journalists ranks the country seventh ...

G7 explores energy price caps; More than 40 people missing after Russian missile attack on mall

Group of Seven nations moved forward with an ambition to limit Russian President Vladimir Putin’s energy revenue by curbing oil and gas prices, a day after a Russian missile strike on a shopping centre in central Ukraine killed at least 20 people.
The missile attack in the city of Kremenchuk, about 300km southeast of Kyiv, was sparked by a fire from a strike on an arms and ammunition depot nearby, Russia’s Defence Ministry said — a claim swiftly refuted by Ukrainian authorities. More than 40 people were still unaccounted for. G7 leaders branded the attack a war crime.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told G7 leaders he wants the war to be over by the end of the year, according to officials familiar with the remarks. Heads of state and government were en route to Madrid for a Nato summit, with plans to boost the size of its high-readiness force to 300,000 to bolster defences against Russian aggression.
Key developments
Nato allies still seeking progress with Turkey on expansion
Soviet terror made sacrifice second nature for Baltics
Nato to label China ‘systemic challenge’ in strategic plan
Russia slips into historic default as sanctions muddy next steps
Russian crude flows slump, but it’s likely to prove temporary
Putin to leave Russia for first time since the Ukraine invasion
What Ukraine’s EU candidacy means, and what’s ahead: QuickTake
On the ground
Russian forces are pressing ahead with their goal of occupying all of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Ukrainian military spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said during a video briefing. Kyiv-led forces are withdrawing from Sievierodonetsk, as the Russian military moved in on neighbouring Lysychansk from the south, closing in on the last major redoubt in the Luhansk region that Kyiv still controls. While Lysychansk remained the main hotspot of military action, Russian troops shelled Ukrainian positions and civilian areas elsewhere along the front line, including with air-to-land missiles. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, was also being shelled, its mayor said.
Dnipro among targets in latest missile barrage
Six rockets were launched by Russia on central Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region, with several hitting railway infrastructure, an industrial enterprise and a car service station in the region’s major city of Dnipro, Valentyn Reznichenko, the head of the regional government, said on his Telegram account.
Fire erupted after a missile strike on the service station, where employees still remain under rubble, and it was being extinguished, he said. Explosions were also heard on Tuesday in another big city, the southern seaport of Mykolayiv.
Johnson says ...

Junior Springboks ring the changes for Ireland challenge

The Junior Springboks meet European champions Ireland in the Six Nations Under-20 Summer Series on Wednesday with a new-look team.
Junior Boks assistant coach Chean Roux has urged a much-changed pack to raise the intensity against Six Nations Under-20 champions Ireland, who they play in Verona, Italy, on Wednesday.
South Africa have made six changes in total, all in the forwards, for their second fixture in the series, and Roux stressed the importance of squad rotation, given the tight turnaround between matches.
Despite an immensely physical battle in their 30-22 victory over England on Friday, Roux warned his side of the threat a wounded Ireland will pose, who are desperate to avoid a second defeat after their opening-day misery against France, who beat them 42-21.
“I think we should step up our intensity,” Roux said.
“I thought we did well with England, for starters, but now we’re used to where we live and what the field looks like and I think everyone has found their rhythm.
“The Irish will be hurting after that loss to France and we have to make sure we are physically and mentally prepared and up for the challenge.”
Just two forwards survived the cull as head coach Bafana Nhleko rings the changes.
The new front row should be familiar with one another, with all three playing their club rugby for the Bulls. Sivuyise Mabece and Corne Lavanga line up on either side of hooker Tiaan Lange.
Further back, there are first starts for Corne Rahl, Paul de Villiers and Louw Nel, while the backline remains completely unchanged with flyhalf Sacha Mngomezulu, who registered three assists in round one, skippering the side once again.
Nhleko has kept intact the starting backline that did duty in the win over England, but he has freshened up the pack for the expected fiery battle against Ireland, who won the competition earlier this year.
Reinhardt Ludwig (lock) and Cameron Hanekom (lock) are the only two players set to get a second start among the forwards, with Nhleko making six changes to the forwards combination that will run out against Ireland.
Corne Lavanga and Sivu Mabece (props) and Tiaan Lange (hooker) will pack down in the front row. Ludwig’s new lock partner is Corne Rahl, while Hanekom, who had a strong outing against the English, will be flanked by Paul de Villiers and Louw Nel in the back row.
The new-look replacements bench has only utility backs Compion von Ludwig and Imad Khan from ...

Filing from Odesa — between Putin, Pushkin and Potemkin

On Tuesday, 28 June, a crowd in traditional national dress sang folk songs outside Odesa’s famous National Opera and Ballet Theatre at lunchtime, in recognition of Ukraine’s Constitution Day. By then, there had been no fewer than four air raid warnings that day, the siren wailing through the Baroque streets of this Black Sea port. An earlier raid, at 10am, produced three loud missile strikes, along with anti-aircraft fire.
“South Africa can afford to support Russia,” says Odesa city councillor Piotr Obukhov, “since it knows it’s not going to be next.”
Obukhov (37) is an IT entrepreneur who developed the local version of Uber, known as Bond, an example of the tech-savvy younger Ukrainian generations brought up after the demise of the Soviet Union and the realisation of Ukraine’s independence in 1991.
“Business is just 30% of what it was before the war,” he says, showing me the administrator’s page, detailing business trends and the geographic concentration of lifts. “One of the problems is that people who were likely to afford a taxi to go to work have left Odesa.”
As many as one-third of the city of one million fled the Russian invasion on 24 February, but there is a trickle back as the Ukrainian armed forces hold their own in the region against the Russian advances.
“People forget that the war started in 2014,” says Irina, a waitress at the city’s oldest restaurant, opposite the opera house. She came to Odesa from Luhansk in the eastern Donbas. About 150,000 people have moved into the city from areas on the frontline or now under Russian control, including Crimea, just 300km away.
Ukrainian counterattacks around the city of Kherson, about 100km to the east, have pushed the Russians on to the back foot, while the closer port of Mykolaiv continues to resist and remains in Ukrainian hands. Moscow’s supposed plan to push westwards from Crimea linking up with Russian-backed separatists in Transnistria in neighbouring Moldova appears to have been abandoned for now, but not completely.
If Russia had been successful in its push from Crimea westwards, Ukraine would have been cut off from its Black Sea ports, and the world from Ukraine’s enormous agricultural wealth that feeds 400 million people worldwide, including many in North Africa, the Middle East and especially the Horn of Africa.
Odesa may be the best-known of the Black Sea ports, but it is one of a series of seven public and private terminals ...

Bad boy Nick Kyrgios claims dramatic victory over wild card Paul Jubb during Wimbledon Day 2

Nick Kyrgios battled past home favourite Paul Jubb 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-7(3), 7-5 to reach the second round at The Championships.
Oh dear. Yes, that is how most conversations start and end about Nick Kyrgios, the self-styled bad boy on the professional tennis tour. And so it was on Tuesday on court No 3 where the Australian world number 40 was digging deep against the wild card Paul Jubb from Great Britain. The crowd sensed a major upset and it almost was.
It went to five sets because Kyrgios never makes anything easy as he struggled to find his form in the first, which he lost to Jubb by a surprising scoreline of 6-3. But never count Kyrgios out, as he is as talented as he can be awkward. And the fully paid-up member of the awkward squad was only 12 minutes into play before he started mouthing off against the umpire.
Wearing more body ink than he was clothes, Kyrgios showed flashes of brilliance in a match that went over the three-hour mark, even though he had chances to close it out in the fifth set at 5-3 up. The mainly British crowd — who rarely have much to cheer about at Wimbledon — were vocal from the off in support of Kyrgios’s British opponent.
I suspect, rather like me, the crowd had never heard of Paul Jubb. But that didn’t matter. He is British and that is good enough. The applause was rapturous as the small-framed Jubb moved effortlessly from side to side, before unleashing some down-the-line winning shots.
Kyrgios had his moments too, and these came in the next two sets, which he took by the scruff of the neck, 6-1, 7-5. But it was in the fourth set that his lack of concentration showed, and his vocal range was more on display than his tennis. But that is what we have all come to expect. The drama is as exciting as the tennis. The stadium was packed and not that many in the ATP top 10 can pull in such numbers as this enigmatic character.
Kyrgios clearly believes in the line, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” He couldn’t close out on serve but broke to do just that. He took the fifth set 7-5 and looked mightily relieved as he warmly shook hands at the net. Expect more drama in his second-round match. DM
Derek Laud is a visiting ...

Zondo let the State Capture bankers off the hook

How did the State Capture network move billions of rand stolen from the South African people across the globe? The Zondo Commission report provides some of the details of the network of banks who profited from this — but fails to provide any remedy of how to prevent a repetition of these crimes.
The Zondo Commission dedicates 100 of the 5,500 pages in its final reports to describing the money laundering systems used to divert the loot of State Capture to Gupta bolt holes outside South Africa. It is a vital part of the State Capture story.
Yet despite describing obvious failures of South Africa’s anti-money laundering systems, the Zondo Commission made no strong recommendations to hold the banks and regulators to account for these failures. This is one of the most significant gaps in the commission’s final reports.
In describing the Gupta enterprise’s money laundering systems, the Zondo Commission relied heavily on the incredible forensic work of Paul Holden from the civil society organisation Shadow World Investigations (SWI).
Holden testified to the commission and submitted thousands of pages of evidence that tracked, in fine detail, the flow of funds out of state-owned entities through corrupt contracts, into the Guptas South African money laundering vehicles, and then offshore through laundering networks in jurisdictions like Hong Kong and the UAE.
Holden showed that contracts worth over R57-billion were tainted by State Capture, and that over R16-billion was laundered and ultimately went to the Gupta family or companies under their control.
While Holden was one of the final witnesses to testify, his testimony provided an ideal finish to the commission by showing South Africans exactly how stolen public funds from Eskom, Transnet and elsewhere were laundered into Gupta hands.
In February 2020, Open Secrets and SWI jointly submitted detailed information to the Zondo Commission in the form of an investigative report, The Enablers: The Banks, Accountants and Lawyers that Cashed in on State Capture.
The report argued that to understand the Gupta racketeering enterprise, the commission needed to scrutinise the conduct of banks, law firms, accounting firms and other professionals that facilitated State Capture and failed to perform their lawful duties.
It argued that many of these private actors had co-created a global financial system predicated on secrecy and impunity that enabled corrupt actors like the Guptas to launder the proceeds of their crimes.
The report gave advance warning to the commission:
“A failure to interrogate, fully and energetically, the private enablers of ...

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