NPA asks Interpol to help arrest, deport Guptas to SA

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  • The Investigating Directorate has issued an international arrest warrant for some members of the Gupta family.
  • ID head advocate Hermione Cronje has asked Interpol to arrest and deport the Guptas to South Africa to stand trial for fraud and money laundering.
  • The warrant relates to R25 million paid for a feasibility study to determine the viability of the failed R288 million Estina dairy farm project.

The Investigating Directorate (ID) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has issued arrest warrants for Gupta brothers, Atul and Rajesh, and their wives, Chetali and Arti, as well as a number of business associates.

News24 can confirm that ID head Hermione Cronje asked Interpol to circulate the Red Notice international arrest warrant to have the Guptas deported to South Africa to stand trial for fraud and money laundering.

The ID wants to try the Guptas in connection with R25 million spent on a feasibility study to determine the viability of the failed Estina dairy farm in Vrede in the Free State. The Gupta brothers, close friends and associates of former president Jacob Zuma, fled the country in 2018 and are reportedly in the United Arab Emirates.

The issuing of the arrest warrants coincided with the arrest on Wednesday of Iqbal Sharma in connection with a payment of R25 million which the Free State Department of Agriculture made to Nulane, a company Sharma controlled. Sharma appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Thursday. He, alongside Peter Thabethe, Dr Limakatso Moorosi and Seipati Dlamini were charged with fraud and money laundering in connection with the Nulane transaction.

READ | Key Gupta lieutenant Iqbal Sharma arrested in connection with failed Estina dairy project

Thabethe, Moorosi and Dlamini are former executives of the Free State Department of Agriculture.

Cronje is quoted in a statement saying that besides the Guptas and their wives, the NPA is also seeking to arrest Ankit Jain, former Nulane Investment Bank of Baroda account signatory, Ravindra Nath, director of Wone Management (Pty) Ltd, Ramesh Bhat and Jagdish Parekh, the directors of Pragat Investments (Pty).

In its indictment, the ID argues that in 2011, Sharma, Thabethe, Moorosi and Dlamini devised a fraudulent scheme which saw Nulane appointed to conduct a feasibility study to determine if the R288 million Estina dairy project was feasible. The indictment shows that the department paid Nulane R25 million for the feasibility study.

After getting the money, Nulane appointed and paid Deloitte Consulting R1.5 million to conduct the study. The rest of the money was laundered through a series of accounts, ending in Gateway, a company incorporated in the United Arab Emirates and owned and controlled by the Gupta brothers.

DEVELOPING | Gupta lieutenant Iqbal Sharma, 4 others appear in court for fraud, money laundering

The charge sheet shows that after in 2011 the Free State Department of Agriculture had identified the need for the Estina dairy initiative, initially known as the Mohoma Mobung initiative. In a statement Seboka said "the R25 million was purportedly paid to Nulane to conduct a feasibility study for the Free State province's flagship Mohoma Mobung project, on the basis that Nulane had unique skills to perform the work."

Nulane Investments, however, had no employees on its books and in fact, subcontracted Deloitte to produce the report, for which Deloitte was paid R1.5 million. The only change made to the Deloitte report was to identify Paras, an Indian dairy company, as a suitable implementing partner for the development of a milk processing plant in Vrede.

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