The National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) Investigating Directorate has welcomed the bail denial of former Transnet Board member and Gupta family associate, Iqbal Sharma.
The Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday ordered that Sharma remain behind bars until he appears again in court on July 5.
This after the state proved that he was a flight risk as he had failed to disclose that he had transferred R264.4 million to Issar Global in 2016. The company is based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Investigating Directorate further told the court that the businessman’s South African assets accounted for 10% of his total assets.
“He has made more than 100 flights to and from the airports in the UAE since 2010. Sharma is a citizen of the world and has connections to several foreign countries. He additionally speaks three different international languages: French, Urdu, and Hindi,” Investigating Directorate spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka said in a statement.
Sharma and three others were arrested on June 3 in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and the Free State. The three - former Free State Agriculture, and Rural Development (FSDoARD) head, Peter Thabethe; former head of the Free State Department of Agriculture (FSDoA), Limakatso Moorosi; and former FSDoA chief financial officer, Seipati Dhlamini – have all been granted R10 000 bail.
Sharma is amongst 16 other accused who face charges relating to defrauding the Free State Department of Agriculture (FSDoA).
The fraud is in connection with a R25-million feasibility study in 2011 that was irregularly granted to Nulane Investment 204, a company owned and controlled by Sharma.
The company had to provide a report to the department within seven months. Nulane, however, subcontracted the work to Deloitte Consulting for R1.5 million.
Furthermore, said Seboka, it had subcontracted the work already completed by Deloitte to Gateway Limited and had paid them over R19 million.
“From there, the funds were diverted to Islandsite Investments 180 (Islandsite), a company owned and controlled by the Gupta family. The accused face charges of fraud and money laundering. The former government officials are also charged with contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.”
The fifth suspect in the matter, Iqbal Sharma’s brother-in-law and a representative of Nulane Investments, Dinesh Patel, will formally appear on June 15, owing to health reasons. They are charged together with three companies, Nulane Investment 204 (owned and controlled by Sharma), Wone Management, Pragat Investment and Islandsite Investments.
The Investigating Directorate said the balance of the accused listed in the charge sheet were not currently in South Africa.
All the accused are expected back in the Bloemfontein Magistrates' Court on July 5. The directorate has concluded Investigations and is ready to hand over the docket to the defence and start with the trial as soon as possible. – SAnews.gov.za