A fifth suspect, believed to be the brother-in-law of Gupta-associated Iqbal Sharma, is expected to appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday in a R25 million procurement fraud case.
The suspect, a representative of Nulane Investment, faces charges of procurement fraud after a payment of R25 million was made to the company by the Free State Department of Agriculture (FSDOA).
“The suspect will join 16 other accused, together with companies, that face charges of fraud and money laundering in the multimillion feasibility study that was contracted to Nulane Investment by the Free State government,” said National Prosecuting Authority Investigating Directorate (NPA) spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka.
The 2011 study was commissioned to investigate the likelihood of the success of the Mohoma Mobung agriculture project.
“Nulane Investments, however, had no employees on its books and in fact subcontracted Deloitte Ltd to produce the report. Deloitte was paid R1.5 million for the work.
“The only change made to the Deloitte report was to identify Paras dairy as a suitable implementing partner for the development of a milk processing plant in Vrede,” said Seboka.
The accused is charged along with Nulane Investment owner Iqbal Sharma, former Free State head of Department for Rural Development (FSDoRD), Peter Thabethe; former head of FSDoA, Limakatso Moorosi; and former FSDoA Chief Financial Officer, Seipati Dhlamini.
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 NPA alleges that the four accused colluded to divert funds meant for rural development in the province to Islandsite Investments 180, a company owned and controlled by the Gupta family.
Sharma was denied bail. Thabethe, Moorosi, and Dlamini were each granted R10 000 bail.
The other accused listed in the charge sheet are currently not in South Africa.