Victory for Guptas as court discharges restraint order

2018-05-28 17:59

The Free State High Court has ruled in favour of the Gupta-linked companies and eight individuals who opposed a restraint order by the Asset Forfeiture Unit in February, who sought to freeze assets to the value of R250 million.

Varun Gupta, a Gupta family member convicted for his role in the alleged scam, had returned to the country after gaining permission to leave for Dubai to attend a traditional ceremony.

The assets included residential, farm and business properties, several high-end vehicles including a Lamborghini as well as bank accounts linked to Oakbay Investments, Westdawn Investments and Annex Distribution.

“The provincial restraint order is discharged with cost,” Judge Philip Jacobus Loubser ruled on Monday afternoon.

In February the eight accused were arrested after raids were conducted by the Hawks at the Gupta compound in Saxonwold and offices in Sandton.

The accused include Estina director Kamal Vasram, former directors at the Guptas’ holding company Oakbay – Varun Gupta, Ronica Ragavan, Nazeem Howa and Ashu Chawla – and Free State officials Peter Thabethe, Sylvia Dlamini and Takisi Masiteng.

The Asset Forfeiture Unit had claimed through an affidavit that when the Free State Agricultural department was led by former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane, the department had allegedly paid around R220 million to the Guptas and their various associates in return for alleged kickbacks from the government

In January City Press reported that the National Prosecuting Authority was going after the Guptas, with the aim to preserve assets to the value of a whopping R1.6 billion. Under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, the assets were said to have been acquired through proceeds of crime.

The Estina Dairy Farm was said to have been handed to the Guptas in 2013, when it was promised that 100 farmers would receive five cows, which never saw fruition.

Additional reporting by News24

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May 19 2019