The controversial politically-connected Gupta family announced on Saturday they intend to sell all their shareholdings in South Africa by the end of the year.

“Since our decision to step down from all executive and non-executive positions in all our South African business in April 2016, the local management team has grown our businesses from strength to strength, with turnover and profits showing good growth and more jobs created,” a statement issued by Gupta family spokesman Gary Naidoo said.

“As a family, we now believe that the time is right for us to exit our shareholding of the South African businesses which we believe will benefit our existing employees and lead to further growth in the businesses.

“As such, we announce today our intention to sell all of our shareholding in South Africa by the end of the year. We are already in discussions with several international prospective buyers and will soon be in a position to make further announcements.

“We believe that this decision is in the best interests of our business, the country, and our colleagues,” the statement said.

Earlier, the family had denied any “interest in politics”.

“We firmly believe in the rule of law and we are happy to answer to any and all allegations made against us,” the Guptas said in a statement.

“We have read media reports on News 24 regarding the alleged comments by Finance Minister Gordhan to his Treasury staff about the Gupta family with deep disappointment.”

The Guptas, who are closely aligned with President Jacob Zuma, said they had repeatedly pointed out that the family had “been a victim of a political campaign against it”.

They claim that a “narrative had been constructed” against them, which had been perpetuated by many media titles, and that “flawed perception has become the truth in the eyes of some”.

“Meanwhile, no charge has ever been brought against us. We repeat the challenge to our detractors – if you have evidence against us, please bring it. Otherwise, please leave us alone. We have no interest in politics, only business,” the statement said.

“We remain fully committed as shareholders to ensuring that our business are run (sic) on sound business lines with all transactions being done on a transparent, arms-length basis. We hold our executives to high standards and would not hesitate to take action against any one executive who breaches our internal codes of good practice, or indeed, any regulatory, or legislative policy, procedure, or framework.

“Finally, to the media, may we plead with you to not unnecessarily position us in the middle of the current issues in our country,” the statement said.

According to media reports, Gordhan allegedly told National Treasury staff he was being targeted by the Guptas because of the work his department had been doing.

Africa News Agency