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Dinesh Patel has been granted R10 000 bail by the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court.

Patel, the former chief executive officer of Nulane Investments 204 (Pty) Ltd, made his first appearance on Tuesday on charges of procurement fraud and money laundering involving R25 million paid to the company by the Free State Department of Agriculture about 10 years ago.

When his co-accused appeared in court last week, he was reportedly not in good health and was given time to recuperate before appearing in court.

The state did not oppose bail and Magistrate Mbuyiselo Didi ordered Patel to hand in his passport.

“The court has considered the evidence in its entirety . . . and is satisfied that it will be in the interest of justice that the applicant is admitted to bail,” said Didi in his judgment.

Earlier, Advocate Kenny Oldwage for the defence had told court that his client was a good candidate for bail as he was not a flight risk and had cooperated with the investigating officer when he was told of the charges he faced and the imminent arrest.

“The applicant is not a flight risk as he has cooperated with the state and divulged all the information about his assets,” said Oldwage.

Patel joins 16 other accused including several companies that face charges of fraud and money laundering for a multi-million-rand feasibility study that was contracted to Nulane Investments by the Free State government.

The study was commissioned to see the possibility of implementing the Mohoma Mobung Agriculture Project, an umbrella programme under which all agricultural projects in the province were to be implemented.

Nulane Investments, however, had no employees on its books and in fact subcontracted Deloitte Ltd to produce the report.

Deloitte was paid R1.5 million for the work.

The only change made to the Deloitte report was to identify Paras dairy as a suitable implementing partner for the development of a milk processing plant in Vrede.

Patel is charged along with Nulane Investments owner Iqbal Sharma, former Free State head of department for rural development Mbana Peter Thabethe, former head of department Limakatso Moorosi and former chief financial officer for the department Seipati Dhlamini.

They are charged together with four companies, Nulane Investments 204 (Pty) Ltd, Wone Management (Pty) Ltd, Pragat Investments (Pty) Ltd and Islandsite Investments (Pty) Ltd.

The other accused, who include two Gupta brothers and their wives, are currently out of the country and South African authorities are working with Interpol to find them and bring them to face trial.

The case was postponed to July 5 for further particulars.

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