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Staff Reporter

The Bloemfontein Regional Court has postponed the criminal case relating to the R25 million Nulane Investments case.

The matter will be transferred to the Bloemfontein High Court on September 6 for trial.

A statement issued by Investigating Directorate (ID) spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka said the matter was postponed in the absence of the five accused due to COVID-19 Level 4 restrictions.

She said this followed an agreement between the ID and the defence to proceed with the matter without calling in the accused in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The accused are Nulane owner Iqbal Sharma and employee Dinesh Patel, former head of department for rural development in the Free State, Peter Thabethe, former head of the provincial agriculture department, Limakatso Moorosi, and former chief financial officer for the departments, Seipati Dhlamini.

They are facing charges of fraud and money laundering.

The former agriculture department officials are also charged with contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

All but Sharma were released on bail when they initially appeared in court last month.

Sharma is also a former board member of Transnet.

The case relates to procurement fraud involving R24.9 million, paid between November 2011 and April 2012 by the provincial agriculture department to Nulane Investments.

It is the state’s case that the funds were then diverted to Islandsite Investments 180 (Pty) Ltd, a company owned and controlled by the Gupta family.

The R24.9m was purportedly paid to Nulane to conduct a feasibility study for the Free State province’s flagship Mohoma Mobung project, on the basis that Nulane had unique skills to perform the work. 

The group is charged together with four companies, Nulane Investments, Wone Management, Pragat Investments and Islandsite Investments.

The case docket has been disclosed to the six accused to aid them in preparation for trial.

Meanwhile, Advocate Hermione Cronje says that efforts to bring the Guptas back have intensified as Interpol has now circulated their information around the world.

“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 (Pty) Ltd; Ramesh Bhat and Jagdish Parekh, the directors of Pragat Investments (Pty) Ltd,” Cronje is quoted as saying in the statement.

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