'Gupta fixer' Kuben Moodley out on bail, says he was going on golfing vacation

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The Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crimes Court has granted Kuben Moodley R150 000 bail.
The Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crimes Court has granted Kuben Moodley R150 000 bail.
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  • The alleged "Gupta fixer" Kuben Moodley appeared at the Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday.
  • He says he was going on a "golf-playing vacation" in Dubai and had a return ticket with him.
  • Moodley says does not have the financial means to go and live as a fugitive in another country.

The Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crimes Court has granted Kuben Moodley bail of R150 000.

The Gupta-linked businessman was arrested at the O.R. Tambo International Airport on Tuesday evening in connection with alleged money laundering of the proceeds from contracts improperly awarded by Transnet to Regiments and Trillian. But he says he was headed to a golf vacation in Dubai when the police apprehended him, and his return flight ticket proves that he had no intentions of skipping the country.  

The state has charged him and his company, Albatime, with theft, corruption, fraud and money laundering. His appearance at the Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday was his first. 

In an affidavit that his lawyer Piet du Plessis of BDK Attorneys read in court, Moodley said he was going away on vacation with friends.

"I was on my way with friends for a five-day golf playing vacation in Dubai," wrote Moodley in an affidavit.

Du Plessis said the state had no evidence suggesting that Moodley intended to skip the country. And the return ticket dated 3 October was solid evidence that this was a vacation.

Evading trial or not?

Moodley said the state had been watching his every move, which is how it knew about his "planned" trip. So, for it to only effect his arrest at the airport showed that it wanted to "cast aspersions" on him that he tried to escape.

"I take huge offence [at] these underhanded tactics and would have handed myself over for arrest in order to have the matter enrolled had I been notified of the need to do so. My full family, economic and social ties are in this, my country of birth, and I will not walk away from it," said Moodley.

The trial in question relates to the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) Investigating Directorate's (ID) ongoing investigation on Moodley for his alleged involvement in state capture.

According to an amaBhungane investigation, Moodley introduced the chief executive of Regiments Capital to Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa in 2012.

After that introduction, Regiments landed deals at Transnet and other state-owned worth roughly R1 billion. Moodley's company Albatime alleged received kickbacks from Regiments for the Transnet contracts. The NPA's ID has been probing these kickbacks.

Investigating Directorate spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka said Moodley benefitted to the tune of R307 million .

"It's money for [doing] absolutely nothing for various transactions at Transnet," Seboka said. 

The question of missing assets

As part of its investigation, the NPA's ID obtained a court order to restrain Moodley's assets and obtain his cellphone records in June 2020. He was supposed to disclose all his assets and hand over safety boxes to the NPA's ID. 

But he didn't comply with that order. So, in November last year, the ID obtained a search and seizure warrant, and the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) seized the safety boxes. However, the prosecutor told the court on Wednesday that the contents of those boxes "miraculously" disappeared.

These boxes included jewellery, Krugerrands and various other high-value items. The prosecutor accused Moodley of removing them to hide crucial evidence, and said those contents could also include clues about assets outside of SA that he might not have disclosed. She said the state had confirmed that Moodley failed to fully and properly disclose his assets.

But Du Plessis said Moodley only "lawfully" disposed of certain contents of those safety boxes before the court placed any restraint on them.

The state maintained that Moodley tampered with evidence in those boxes as soon as he learnt that he was a subject of an investigation.

With the whereabouts of the content of those boxes unknown, the ID suspected that Moodley was about to escape the country when it learnt about his Dubai trip.

But Moodley said he had no assets outside of SA and had disclosed everything he owns and his sole income stream, which is his wife's income. He said the state already has all the evidence required to move forward if there were a case against him. And the suggestion that he was trying to evade his looming trial in SA could not be further from the truth.

"I respectfully submit that this likelihood does not exist. I am innocent of what I'm being accused of. I do not wish to evade my trial and live the life of a fugitive, and I do not have the means, financial or otherwise, to live the life of a fugitive," wrote Moodley.

Moodley will report to the Sandton police station twice a week. The state has asked for his trial to start in 2022. The matter was adjourned to 28 February 2022.

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