#GuptaEmails show Guptas involved in R570m Free State dairy project

2017-06-02 10:52
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Bloemfontein - The #GuptaLeaks emails have confirmed that the controversial Gupta family was also involved in the R570 million dairy project in Vrede, in the Free State, Netwerk24 reported on Thursday.

Reports that the Guptas were involved in the project first surfaced in 2013, but the Free State government denied it.

According to emails in the possession of City Press, the Guptas had attended talks about the project and said the Free State government “showed great interest”.

- See the #GuptaEmails Special Report

Ravindra Nath, the non-executive director of JIC Mining Services, responded to enquiries by B Rajendra Prasad, the CEO of Bank of India, on November 8, 2012.

RK (Rajesh) Gupta controls JIC Mining Services, of which President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma, is a director. 

In the query, which was sent after a discussion about the Estina dairy project on October 25, 2012, “and in letters after that”, Prasad asks for details on the project, including whose name the land is registered in, basic costs and which key people would be driving the project full-time.   

Provincial government showed interest in buying milk

In reply to a question about what marketing arrangements had been made, Nath said the milk would be marketed by supermarkets such as Pick n Pay and Checkers.

“The government is showing great interest in buying the products for schools, correctional services, etc”, Nath responded. 

“It would even be effective should we be able to co-operate with one of the state departments to use our product, ensuring timeous payment.

“The provincial government in which the project is located [the Free State] is showing great interest with regard to this.”

Nath said in the email that R6.7 million had been made available for water management, such as boreholes and irrigation systems.

It isn’t clear who provided this money.

Financing

Earlier it was reported that the National Treasury said the Free State Department of Agriculture was still financing the dairy project to the tune of R46 million for the 2016-2017 financial year, but “no more money had been allocated in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) of 2016”.

In the MTEF, money is allocated over a period of three years to develop a project.

The Vrede dairy project was started in 2014 and the three year period has expired.

The Treasury found that another R46 million had been allocated for the 2016-2017 financial year, despite the fact that the three years had passed. 

In 2016 it was reported that the project had already cost R570 million. 

Another email which surfaced is a translated Volkblad report about the Free State government’s involvement in India. It had been sent by the Estina company to Ashu Chawla, director of Sahara Computers (Pty) Ltd on May 11, 2013. The subject is “Volksblad translation”.

No information other than the report was included.

Read more on:    gupta family  |  bloemfontein  |  gupta emails  |  agriculture

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