Ajay Gupta spotted in India, but no sign of action from local authorities

Ajay Gupta speaks to the media from the offices of the New Age. (Muntu Vilakazi, Gallo Images)
Ajay Gupta speaks to the media from the offices of the New Age. (Muntu Vilakazi, Gallo Images)

Ajay Gupta is reportedly back in his Indian hometown of Saharanpur, a small town in Uttar Pradesh.

He was last seen in Dubai, when South African businessman Justin van Pletzen confronted a jovial Ajay outside a business park in the emirate. Van Pletzen was subsequently detained by authorities after Ajay Gupta laid a complaint against him.

READ: Ajay Gupta himself laid complaint against SA businessman in Dubai - source

eNCA reported that the eldest of the three Gupta brothers was first spotted in a New Delhi hotel last week. He and other family members (including Tony and Atul Gupta) are reportedly on a religious pilgrimage to the northern province of Uttarakhand.

Keeping a lookout

While Indian income tax authorities are still insisting that the brothers account for fraudulently misrepresenting their tax returns, it transpired on Friday that the Indian Intelligence Bureau had not issued a so-called "Look out circular" (LOC) for Ajay Gupta.

The Times of India reported that the Indian Intelligence Bureau had not issued a LOC against him, and that this came about after Ajay Gupta initially requested clarity on reports of a LOC.

A LOC is used to flag fugitives and absconded criminals at Indian ports of entry.

His request was made in terms of the Right to Information act, similar to a request made in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) here in South Africa. After the Indian Intelligence Bureau failed to respond in time, his attorneys approached the courts, seeking an order to compel it to disclose whether an LOC was issued or not.

In its affidavit, Intelligence Bureau assistance director Ajay Kumar told the court that no such LOC had been issued against Ajay Gupta.

Diaspora

The time in India seems to have brought the family back together again.

Last week, Varun Gupta – a nephew of the Gupta brothers – approached the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court, seeking a relaxation of his bail conditions to allow him to go on the same pilgrimage. The application was granted.

READ: Court rules Gupta relative can travel to India

He is expected to return to South Africa by May 27.

Varun Gupta and his co-accused were arrested in February this year. They face charges of fraud, theft, conspiracy to commit fraud and theft, contravening the Public Finance Management Act, contravening the Companies Act and contravening sections of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

READ: Seven Vrede dairy farm project accused released on bail

The charges relate to their involvement in the Estina dairy farm project, which saw millions meant for local black farmers being used to fund a lavish wedding at Sun City. The ceremony was mired in controversy when hundreds of guests turned the Waterkloof military airfield into a makeshift airport.

Varun’s sister, Vega Gupta, was the bride at the Sun City wedding.


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