The Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court has postponed the bail hearing of former Transnet Board member and Gupta family associate, Iqbal Sharma to Tuesday 8 June.
Investigating Directorate spokesperson, Sindisiwe Seboka, said the matter had been postponed on Monday to allow the court to hear arguments.
However, Former Free State, Agriculture and Rural Development (FSDoARD) head, Peter Thabethe was granted R10 000 bail in the same court.
Sharma and Thabethe are amongst 15 accused who face charges relating to allegedly defrauding the Free State Department of Agriculture (FSDoA).
“The fraud is in connection with a R25m feasibility study in 2011 that was irregularly granted to Nulane Investment 204 (PTY) LTD, a company owned and controlled by Sharma,” Seboka said.
“The company had to provide a report to the department within seven months. Nulane, however, subcontracted the work to Deloitte Consulting Pty Ltd for R1.5m. Furthermore, it subcontracted the work already completed by Deloitte to Gateway Limited and paid them over R19m,” she said.
From there, the funds were allegedly diverted to Islandsite Investments 180 (Pty) Ltd (Islandsite), a company owned and controlled by the Gupta family.
The NPA’s Investigating Directorate has alleged that Sharma, Thabethe; former head of FSDoA, Limakatso Moorosi; and former FSDoA Chief Financial Officer, Seipati Dhlamini, had colluded to divert funds earmarked for rural development in the Free State. These funds were then placed at the disposal of the Gupta family.
Moorosi and Dhlamini were granted R10 000 bail each on Thursday 4 June following their arrest on Wednesday 3 June.
The accused face charges of fraud and money laundering. The former government officials have also been charged for 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 15 June 2021, due to health reasons.
They are charged together with three companies, Nulane Investment 204 (Pty) Ltd (owned and controlled by Sharma), Wone Management (PTY) LTD, Pragat Investment (Pty) LTD and Islandsite Investments Pty Ltd. The balance of accused listed in the charge sheet are not currently in South Africa.