The National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigative Directorate (ID) has confirmed that Interpol has issued Red Notices for the Gupta family members, their spouses and along with four others.
In a statement released on Monday, ID head advocate Hermione Cronje indicated that efforts to bring the Guptas back have intensified.
“Interpol has issued red notices against Atul Gupta and his wife, Chetali; Rajesh Gupta and his wife, Arti; Ankit Jain, former Nulane Investment Bank of Baroda account signatory; Ravindra Nath, director of Wone Management; Ramesh Bhat and Jagdish Parekh, the directors of Pragat Investments,” Cronje said.
This is after the directorate last month had asked Interpol to arrest and extradite the Guptas from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to stand trial in South Africa on fraud charges.
The matter is in connection with a 2011 R25 million feasibility study by Nulane Investments on the Vrede Dairy Project.
The case has now since been transferred to the Bloemfontein High Court on 6 September 2021 for trial.
“The matter was postponed in the absence of the accused, as agreed between the NPA’s Investigating Directorate and the defence, in the wake of the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown regulations,” NPA spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka.
The accused in the case includes:
- Former Transnet board member, Iqbal Sharma;
- Nulane Investment employee, Dinesh Patel (Sharma’s brother-in-law);
- Former Free State head of department for rural development (FSDoRD), Peter Thabethe;
- Former head of FSDoA, Limakatso Moorosi; and
- Former FSDoA Chief Financial Officer, Seipati Dhlamini.
All suspects face charges of fraud and money laundering while the former government officials were also charged with contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
They are charged together with three companies, Nulane Investment 204 (owned and controlled by Sharma), Wone Management, Pragat Investment, and Islandsite Investments.
Seboka said warrants against the accused out on bail will be issued yet stayed until the next appearance.
“Iqbal Sharma on the other hand will continue to be incarcerated as he was not granted bail last month,” she said.
Thabethe, Moorosi, Dlamini and Patel were released after they were each granted R10 000 bail last month.
“The docket has been disclosed to the six accused to aid them in preparation for trial,” Seboka added.
In the case, the NPA alleges that the accused colluded to divert funds meant for rural development in Free State to Islandsite Investments 180, a company owned and controlled by the Gupta family.
SA and UAE extraction treaty ratified
The UAE confirmed last month the ratification of its extradition treaty after Interpol intervened in the execution of warrants of arrests for Atul and Rajesh Gupta, along with their family members.
During a press briefing, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said the extradition treaty will come into effect on Saturday.
Lamola indicated South Africa will continue to pursue its counterparts “through diplomatic channels in order to reach the desired levels of cooperation and enable our law enforcement agencies to bring to justice persons of interest in any investigation they are pursuing”.
He said the treaty now signifies “a new dawn”, but states that the expectation of the treaty “is yet to be fulfilled”.