Atul Gupta File picture: Dumisani Sibeko/ANA

Johannesburg - Controversial businessman Atul Gupta, whose whereabouts remain a mystery, will on Friday find out from the Bloemfontein High Court if his request to unfreeze R10 million will be granted.

The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) wants to keep the preservation order active that includes a freeze on Gupta's R10 million which was allegedly transferred by Estina (Pvt) Ltd into his private bank account.

Read: Freezing funds unfair, Atul Gupta's lawyer tells court

We have proof of Atul Gupta's crime - NPA

Last week the court heard that the funds were part of about R220 million siphoned from the Free State provincial government meant for a dairy project designed to benefit poor black farmers in the province.

At least eight suspects have appeared in court in connection with the siphoned funds. However, Gupta was not arrested. He is known to have left the country but his whereabouts remain unknown.

“Legitimate money was mixed with proceeds of crime,” said Thato Ntimutse in his arguments to court.

Ntimutse, for the AFU, added that millions of ill-gotten money was paid into a pool account held by the Bank of Baroda in order to mix it with clean money and hide what is believed to be illicit transactions.

Michael Hellens, for the Gupta-owned companies argued the State was presenting new arguments as the facts raised by the State were “not part of the files submitted to court”.

Hellens is acting on behalf of Aerohaven Trading (Pvt) Ltd, Oakbay Investments (Pvt) Ltd, Westdawn Investments (Pvt) Ltd, Annex Distribution (Pvt) Ltd and Islandsite Investments One Eighty (Pvt) Ltd.

Advocate Luc Spiller, for the Bank of Baroda, said the state was contradicting itself by assuming the funds were proceeds of crime without substantive proof.  

“The State is making absurd accusations. That money has been withdrawn and it’s gone, so why freeze in the account years later? You cannot justify the preservation order in any way. This preservation order must be set aside,” said Spiller.

Advocate Rafik Bhana, for Gupta, said they felt they were “being ambushed”.

The court will make a ruling on Friday.

African News Agency/ANA