South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)'s Investigative Directorate head Hermione Cronje on July 5 confirmed that Interpol has issued red notices against India-born Atul Gupta and four Gupta family members, making them 'wanted persons' along with four business associates in connection with alleged 25-million rand embezzlement, money laundering and corruption case linked to Estina Dairy Project.
"Interpol has issued red notices against Atul Gupta and his wife, Chetali; Rajesh Gupta and his wife, Arti; Ankit Jain, former Nulane Investment Bank of Baroda account signatory; Ravindra Nath, director of Wone Management (Pty) Ltd; Ramesh Bhat and Jagdish Parekh, the directors of Pragat Investments (Pty) Ltd," Cronje said. The docket has been disclosed to the six accused to aid them in preparation for trial.
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Earlier in the day, the Bloemfontein Regional Court postponed the criminal case relating to Nulane Investment and transferred it to the Bloemfontein High Court for trial on September 6, 2021.
The matter was postponed in the absence of the accused, as agreed between the NPA’s Investigating Directorate and the defence, in the wake of the COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown regulations. Warrants against the accused out on bail will be issued yet stayed until the next appearance.
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Former Transnet Board member Iqbal Sharma, Nulane Investment employee Dinesh Patel, former Free State head of Department for Rural Development (FSDoRD), Peter Thabethe; former head of FSDoA, Limakatso Moorosi; and former FSDoA Chief Financial Officer, Seipati Dhlamini face charges of fraud and money laundering. The former government officials are also charged with contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.
Meanwhile, Iqbal Sharma will continue to be incarcerated as he was not granted bail last month.
The case relates to procurement fraud involving 24.9 million rand, paid between November 2011 and April 2012 by the Free State Department of Agriculture (FSDoA) to Nulane Investment, a company owned and controlled by Sharma.
Later, the funds were diverted to Islandsite Investments -- a firm owned and controlled by the Gupta family.
Purportedly, the 24.9 million rand was paid to Nulane to conduct a feasibility study for the Free State Province’s flagship Mohoma Mobung project, on the basis that Nulane had unique skills to perform the work.