Latest #Vrede accused in the dock

───   OLEBOGENG MOTSE 09:06 Tue, 28 Sep 2021

Latest #Vrede accused in the dock | News Article

The two latest accused in the Vrede feasibility study criminal case are making their first appearance in the Bloemfontein Regional Court on Tuesday.

The unknown accused will be formally applying for bail during the proceedings. Their connection to the case will be revealed their appearance.

On 6 September 2021, Advocates Nazeer Cassim and Peter Serunye on behalf of the state requested a postponement of the virtual court proceedings for the addition of the two new accused who were at that stage yet to be apprehended.

Spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigating Directorate, Sindisiwe Seboka, says: "During the confirmation of the unlimited restraint order on Nulane and Islandsite Investments respectively last month, new evidence came to the fore that the investigating directorate couldn’t ignore linked to the criminal case.”

The state has thus requested the postponement of proceeding to 28 September for the purpose of these new arrests.

All accused formally return to the dock on 8 October for the purpose of transferring the matter to the Bloemfontein High Court for trial.

The accused -former Deputy Director-General (DDG) of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Transnet board member, Iqbal Sharma; the former Free State Agriculture Department Head, Peter Thabethe; current Deputy Director-General at the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Sylvia Dlamini; Bloem Water Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Limakatso Moorosi; and Sharma’s businessman brother-in-law, Dinesh Patel - were all present for the virtual proceedings. They remain out on bail of between R10 000 and R500 000.

The R24,9 million feasibility study falling under the Mohoma Mobung initiative was awarded to Nulane Investments, in which Sharma was a director in 2011. Patel on behalf of Nulane thereafter began engaging Deloitte to subcontract the study, which the forensic auditing firm eventually did for R 1,5 million. However, Nulane then subcontracted the work already carried out by Deloitte to Gateway Limited and paid them R19 million. The state alleges the funds were thereafter laundered into varied accounts thereafter, including that of Islandsite Investments owned by the Gupta family.

Islandsite Investments, which according to reports owns 40% of Oakbay Investments, the controversial Gupta mansion in Saxonwold and the family's Cape Town home, is presently under the care of business rescue practitioners.

The state has, in the light of the money laundering allegations, approached Interpol to have them issue red notices for Atul and Rajesh Gupta, as well as their wives Chetali and Arti. Whilst red notices for the Gupta family have been requested, the notices have been issued and greenlit for their associates: former Nulane Investments Bank of Baroda account signatory Ankit Jain; director of Wone Management, Ravindra Nath; the directors of Pragat Investments, Ramesh Bhat and Jagdish Parekh. Seboka says this process will not delay the trial for the accused in South Africa.

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