Gupta aide Iqbal Sharma, co-accused to return in court for bail hearing

Date: 06 Jun 2021

The fifth suspect in the case, who is Iqbal Sharma’s brother-in-law, will formally appear on 15 June 2021, owing to health reasons.

Former Transnet Board member and Gupta family associate, Iqbal Sharma and former Free State, Agriculture and Rural Development head, Peter Thabethe will be back in the dock at the Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court on Monday, 7 June, for their bail hearing.

This is after Sharma and Thabethe co-accused appeared in the court on Thursday following their arrests in connection with the failed R288 million Estina dairy project in Vrede, Free State.

In a statement released on Sunday, the Investigating Directorate (ID) spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka, both suspects will appear in court after spending the weekend at the Bainsvlei Police Station cells.

Fund diversions

Their previous appearance was in connection with procurement fraud charges of R25 million paid by the Free State agriculture department to Nulane Investment.

“The company had to provide a report to the department within seven months. Nulane, however, subcontracted the work to Deloitte Consulting for R1.5m. Furthermore, it subcontracted the work already completed by Deloitte to Gateway and paid them over R19m.

READ MORE: How an old Top Billing episode made life harder for Gupta man Iqbal Sharma

“From there, the funds were diverted to Islandsite Investments , a company owned and controlled by the Gupta family,” Seboka said.

It is alleged that Sharma, Thabethe and two former Free State agriculture department officials – Limakatso Moorosi and Seipati Dlamini – conspired to divert funds, which was meant for rural development in the province.

However, the funds were then placed at the disposal of the Gupta family.

Bail for Moorosi and Dhlamini

Seboka further indicated that bail was granted for Moorosi and Dhlamini at R10,000 each by the Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

The accused face charges of fraud and money laundering. The former government officials are also charged with contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

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Meanwhile, the fifth suspect in the case, Dinesh Patel – Iqbal Sharma’s brother-in-law and a representative of Nulane Investments – will formally appear on 15 June 2021, owing to health reasons.

“They are charged together with three companies, Nulane Investment, Wone Management, Pragat Investment and Islandsite Investments. The balance of accused listed in the charge sheet are not currently in South Africa,” Seboka concluded.

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