Atul Gupta's R10m to be returned to him
Bloemfontein – The Free State High Court in Bloemfontein has ruled in favour of controversial Gupta brother Atul in his application to have a preservation order, obtained against him by the NPA's Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), set aside.
Judge Fouche Jordaan has ruled that the R10m in Gupta's accounts be unfrozen. He however amended his previous order pertaining to Gupta linked companies and Bank of Baroda. About R40m in the Bank of Baroda, belonging to Gupta related companies remains preserved. The AFU had wanted R220m preserved. The bank and the companies were listed as applicants in the case.
NPA regional spokesperson Phaladi Shuping welcomed the judgment but said they did not expect the court's decision.
"We are happy that at least R40m of that money has been preserved."
Gupta claimed that the AFU had misled the court with the evidence they presented to secure the preservation order.
At the time that Gupta filed the application, he was in Dubai. His affidavit was signed and sworn in Dubai and it was stamped and signed by a commissioner of oaths at the South African consulate in there.
"I wish to state, at the outset, that I am currently outside South Africa," he said.
Gupta denied that he had unduly benefited from the Estina dairy farm project, but added that he had not had an opportunity to read the papers.
"The affidavit is prepared in extreme haste as I was only able to give factual instructions on February 7," he said in his papers.
He also submitted that he did not take issue with the part of the order which related to the preservation of immovable property. He restricted his challenge to the cash amount.
The NPA seized control of a dairy farm in the Free State, the Guptas' bank accounts, companies co-owned by Duduzane Zuma, and other entities in the Gupta empire.
In an answering affidavit filed, prosecuting authorities set out precisely why they say that R10m in Gupta's personal bank account constituted the proceeds of corruption, fraud and money laundering.
The AFU said the money was paid from the Estina dairy project, which received it from the Department of Agriculture in the Free State.
Also read: Inside the Gupta heist
Special director of public prosecutions Motlalekhotso Knorx Molelle said in the affidavit, that evidence obtained by financial investigators Samson Schalkwyk and Nkosiphendule Mradla revealed that there was a series of alleged unlawful and criminal activities that led to the money being paid.
Molelle referred to a separate affidavit by Mradla, who said that the Free State agriculture department paid the money to Estina as a result of an unlawful contract.
The money was then "mingled" with other money in the account, which then constituted money laundering, Molelle submitted.
"A few days later an amount of [R4.5m] was withdrawn and/or transferred from this account to [Oakbay Investments] therefore constitute proceeds of unlawful activities."
Molelle said Mradla's affidavit was supported by bank statements which clearly identified Oakbay Investments as a recipient of proceeds of "corruption, fraud, theft and money laundering committed against the Free State Department of Agriculture".
"The fourth applicant [Oakbay Investments] received proceeds of unlawful activities as it has not rendered any services either to the Free State Department of Agriculture and to Estina."
He said Gupta was one of the recipients and a beneficiary.
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