NPA freezes R220m, land linked to Gupta farm

Cape Town. - In its second major move against state capture, the National Prosecuting Authority has seized control of a dairy farm in the Free State and the bank accounts of Atul Gupta, companies co-owned by Duduzane Zuma and other entities in the Gupta empire.

News24 is in possession of the court order issued by the Free State High Court on Thursday that puts the Krynaauws Lust farm near Vrede in the Free State under curatorship of the NPA's Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) and reveals that the Free State's agricultural department - under then MEC Mosebenzi Zwane - paid R220 million to the Guptas in what the AFU calls a "scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department".

This is the second in a series of court actions as the NPA clamps down on companies and individuals implicated in state capture. The first applications targeted consulting firm McKinsey and advisory firm Trillian for irregular work done for Eskom.

The farm, that was gifted to the Gupta-linked Estina in 2013 under a free 99-year lease by the Free State agriculture department, was one of the most scandalous transactions between the Guptas and a government entity.

The #GuptaLeaks revealed last year how at least R30 million paid to the Guptas via the farm ended up funding the family's lavish Sun City wedding in 2013.

According to the court order issued by Judge Fouché Jordaan, the following people and entities all received money meant for a government farming project:

  • Kamal Vasram (R4 million)
  • Chandrama Prasad (R465 264)
  • Vargafield (R16 million)
  • Atul Gupta (R10 million)
  • Aerohaven Trading (R21 million)
  • VR Laser Investments (R15 million)
  • Uxolo Diamond Cutting Works (R4.5 million)
  • MK Investments (R171 046)
  • Oakbay Investments (R24.5 million)
  • Islandsite Investments 180 (R5 million)
  • Bank of Beroda (R30 million)
  • Westdawn Investments (R6 million)
  • Annex Distribution (R6 million)
  • Linkway Trading (R6 million)
  • Stanlib Bedford Gardens (unknown)

In his affidavit before court, the AFU's head of operations, Advocate Knorx Molelle, states that the farm "is the proceeds and instrumentality of unlawful activities; namely fraud, theft and corruption and money laundering".

An irregular government process, including fraudulent assistance from government officials, led to the Guptas scoring a farm they had no intention of developing.

"I submit that the entire project was a mere facade right from the outset that was aimed at providing a veil of legitimacy to what was evidently a scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department... the entire project, including the land it was located on, were instrumentalities of the evident theft, fraud and money laundering," Molelle wrote.