South Africa 21.8.2018 08:16 am

Gupta associates back in court for Estina fraud case

Bloemfontein-15/02/2018- 7 of 8 suspects who appeared at Bloemfontein magistrate court  in connection with charges of fraud and corruption, in the Vrede dairy farm project case.563
Photo: Matthews Baloyi/ANA/African News Agency

Bloemfontein-15/02/2018- 7 of 8 suspects who appeared at Bloemfontein magistrate court in connection with charges of fraud and corruption, in the Vrede dairy farm project case.563 Photo: Matthews Baloyi/ANA/African News Agency

The eight accused face charges of fraud, theft and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Eight people, linked to the Gupta brothers, are expected to appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, facing fraud and corruption charges related to more than R200 million that was allegedly defrauded from the Estina Diary Farm in the Free State.

The nephew of the controversial Gupta brothers, Varun Gupta; former Oakbay CEO, Ronica Ragavan; former Sahara executive, Ashu Chawla; former TNA media executive, Nazeem Howa; Estina director, Kamal Vasram; and three Free State provincial government officials – Peter Thabethe; Sylvia Dlamini; and Takisi Masiteng were released on bail ranging from R10 000 and R200 000.

They face charges of fraud, 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.

The matter is linked to a Free State government dairy project awarded to the company Estina. The charges relate to how more than R200 million earmarked to benefit more than 100 emerging farmers through the Estina project was allegedly swindled in 2013 and ended up in various accounts owned and operated by the Gupta family.

The Gupta brothers, who are close associates of former president Jacob Zuma and his son Duduzane, have previously been accused of using undue influence to persuade top government officials to award their companies lucrative contracts.

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