Iqbal Sharma. Screengrab: NPA’s Investigating Directorate
Iqbal Sharma. Screengrab: NPA’s Investigating Directorate

Gupta associate Iqbal Sharma denied bail

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Jun 8, 2021

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Durban - Former Transnet Board member and Gupta family associate, Iqbal Sharma, has been denied bail in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court.

This after the NPA Investigating Directorate (ID) convinced the court Sharma was a flight risk after he failed to disclose he had transferred R264 459 241 to Issar Global based in the United Arab Emirates between August 22 to December 8, 2016.

The ID further told the court his South African assets account for 10% of his total assets.

He had made more than 100 flights to and from the airports in the UAE since 2010. Sharma is a citizen of the world and had connections to several foreign countries. He additionally spoke three different international languages: French, Urdu, and Hindi.

Sharma and three others were arrested on June 3 in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and the Free State.

The three were granted R10 000 bail each. They are former Free State Agriculture, and Rural Development (FSDoARD) head, Peter Thabethe; former head of FSDoA, Limakatso Moorosi; and former FSDoA Chief Financial Officer, Seipati Dhlamini.

Sharma is among 16 other accused who face charges relating to defrauding the 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.

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.

According to the NPA, from there, the funds were diverted to Islandsite Investments 180 (Pty) Ltd (Islandsite), a company owned and controlled by the Gupta family. The accused face charges of fraud and money laundering.

The former government officials are also charged with 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, owing to health reasons, formally appear on June 15.

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 the accused listed in the charge sheet are not currently in South Africa.

All the accused are expected back in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on July 5. The ID has concluded its investigations, and is ready to hand over the docket to the defence and start with the trial as soon as possible.

IOL

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