By Kaya 959 News
Former Transnet board member and Gupta family associate, Iqbal Sharma, spent another night in custody after his bail application was postponed to Tuesday.
Sharma appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Monday. He is one of 15 people facing charges relating to defrauding the Free State Department of Agriculture.
The court meanwhile granted former Free State Agriculture and Rural Development head, Peter Thabethe, bail of R10 000.
Investigating Directorate spokesperson, Sindisiwe Seboka, said the fraud is in connection with a R25m feasibility study in 2011 that was irregularly granted to Nulane Investment 204 (PTY) LTD, a company owned and controlled by Sharma.
Seboka said the company had to provide a report to the department within seven months.
“Nulane, however, subcontracted the work to Deloitte Consulting Pty Ltd for R1.5m. Furthermore, it subcontracted the work already completed by Deloitte to Gateway Limited and paid them over R19m,” she said.
Seboka said from there, the funds were diverted to Islandsite Investments 180 (Pty) Ltd (Islandsite), a company owned and controlled by the Gupta family.
Suspects allegedly colluded to divert funds
The NPA’s Investigating Directorate alleges that Sharma, Thabethe; former head of FSDoA, Limakatso Moorosi; and former FSDoA Chief Financial Officer, Seipati Dhlamini, colluded to divert funds earmarked for rural development in the Free State. These funds were then placed at the disposal of the Gupta family.
Moorosi and Dhlamini were granted R10 000 bail each on Thursday last week, following their arrest on Wednesday.
ID: Bail hearing continues in court today. Limakatso Moorosi and Seiphati Dhlamini, granted bail on Thursday last week, appeared today along with the other accused . They have been excused and required to appear on 05 July pic.twitter.com/jzCguDhXz5
— NPASouthAfrica (@NPA_Prosecutes) June 7, 2021
Seboka said the accused face charges of fraud and money laundering. The former government officials are also charged with contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.
“The fifth suspect in the matter, Iqbal Sharma’s brother-in-law and a representative of Nulane Investments, Dinesh Patel, will formally appear on 15 June, owing to health reasons,” she said.
They are charged together with three companies, Nulane Investment 204 (Pty) Ltd (owned and controlled by Sharma), Wone Management (PTY) LTD, Pragat Investment (Pty) LTD and Islandsite Investments Pty Ltd. The balance of accused listed in the charge sheet are not currently in South Africa.
Sharma’s assets seized
Last week, the Free State High Court granted the NPA ID permission to seize Sharma’s multi-million Rand home.
“The order applies to assets in South Africa which include all property of Islandsite, Sharma and his wife Tarina Patel-Sharma, and any property held by Sharma’s companies, including two registered in the UAE,” Seboka said.
She said a High Court-appointed curator will take control of and preserve the assets pending the outcome of criminal charges instituted against Sharma.
Seboka said should the accused be convicted, the NDPP will apply for a confiscation order against Sharma and Islandsite to recoup the value of benefits derived from the offences and related criminal activities.
Sharma’s assets that form part of the curator’s inventory include his Sandton home valued at over R12 million.
The property was featured on lifestyle television programme, Top Billing, and is owned through a UAE-registered company, Issar Global.
Sharma’s wife Tarina Patel gave the show a tour of the home in 2019.
Other assets include movable property valued at R500 thousand and a R1.3 million sectional title home in Sandton.