Guptas linked to huge state-owned farm

2013-05-31 08:57
(Don Emmert, AFP)

(Don Emmert, AFP)

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Bloemfontein - A multi-million rand state-funded dairy farm in the Free State has links to the controversial Gupta family - although they have strongly denied it.

The Mail & Guardian reported on Friday that proof was mounting that the company given a farm and tens of millions of rands to start a dairy was in fact linked to Gupta family interests.

The Free State premier talked about the project in his state of the province address in February, saying the public-private partnership was already contributing R30m, which would increase to R342m over three years.

At the time, a departmental spokesperson said emerging farmers would benefit from the dairy.

Contract

The company that was given the contract - Estina - has only one director, Kamal Vasram, who works in IT and has no farming background.

The provincial government, the Gupta family and Vasram have all denied Gupta involvement in the project. 

But links pointed out by the M&G include the registered address of Estina being in the same building as several Gupta businesses. 

Vasram was recently appointed as retail sales manager for Toshiba's South African subsidiary, which has links with IT distributors Mustek and Sahara Computers - owned by the Guptas. Vasram also replaced a Gupta deployee in Gupta-linked company Siyabuselela Trading Enterprise 282 last July.

"As far as the Gupta family's involvement in the [dairy] project is concerned, I wish to categorically state that they are not involved in any manner in this project," Vasram has said.

"I would like to state here that I am passionate about dairy and I strongly believe that this project will go a long way in uplifting the local community and reviving the sagging dairy industry in the province. I have extensive experience in project management, hence my decision to associate myself with this project."

Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  gupta jet  |  agriculture
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