One more night in custody for Sharma as bail application is postponed
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Former Transnet board member and Gupta associate, Iqbal Sharma, will spend another night in the holding cells as his bail application was postponed to Tuesday.
Spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority Investigative Directorate, Sindisiwe Seboka said the postponement was granted to allow for hearing of arguments.
When the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court resumed at 2pm on Monday, State advocate Peter Serunye told magistrate Estelle de Lange that they were working on responding to Sharma’s affidavit.
Serunye said Sharma’s affidavit was “voluminous” and asked for proceedings to be adjourned.
About two hours later, the court resumed to notify counsel, the accused and journalists that the matter would be further adjourned until Tuesday.
Earlier on Monday, the court granted bail of R10 000 to former Free State Agriculture and Rural Development (FSDoARD) head, Peter Thabethe.
Sharma and Thabethe are among 15 accused who face charges relating to defrauding the Free State Department of Agriculture (FSDoA).
The fraud is in connection with a R25 million 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 R1.5million. 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 , a company owned and controlled by the Gupta family.
The NPA’s Investigating Directorate alleges that Sharma, Thabethe, former head of FSDoA Limakatso Moorosi, and former FSDoA chief financial officer Seipati Dhlamini, colluded to divert funds earmarked for rural development in the Free State. These funds were then placed at the disposal of the Gupta family.
Moorosi and Dhlamini were granted R10 000 bail each last Thursday.
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 formally appear on June 15, owing to health reasons.
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 accused listed in the charge sheet are not currently in South Africa, said Seboka.