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Reuters/Mike Hutchings
Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas (right) walking tall.
JUST SAY NO

South Africa’s deputy finance minister turned down a $44 million dollar bribe from the Guptas

By Lily Kuo

The 355-page report detailing corruption in South Africa’s ruling party offers one rare uplifting moment. In the report, deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas reveals more details of how he turned down an offer by the powerful Gupta family of 600 million rand (about $44 million) to be the country’s finance minister.

Jonas, in an interview with Thuli Mandonsela, the country’s former anti-corruption chief who spearheaded the report released today, said he had agreed to meet with president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma on Oct. 23 last year. That was a few months before then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was dismissed, kicking off a hailstorm of corruption allegations against the president.

Jonas met the younger Zuma at the Hyatt Regency hotel in the Johannesburg suburb of Rosebank where Zuma asked if they could move to a more private location for discussions “with a third party.”

Jonas was then taken to the Gupta compound in the suburb of Saxonwold where they were joined by Ajay Gupta, the eldest of the Gupta brothers, who briskly informed the deputy minister that “they had been gathering intelligence on him and those close to him.” Gupta informed Jonas that they were going to make him minister of finance, to which Jonas said that only the president could make that decision.

The report details:

As Mr Jonas was walking towards the door, Mr A. Gupta made a further offer of R600 million to be deposited in an account of his choice. He asked if Mr Jonas had a bag which he could use to receive and carry R600,000 in cash immediately, which he declined.

Jonas is earning praise on social media, as well as disbelief for turning down the 600 million rand.