Gupta associate Iqbal Sharma’s bail application to continue on Tuesday

The Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court has postponed the bail hearing of Gupta associate Iqbal Sharma to Tuesday.

Sharma and the former head of the Free State agriculture department, Peter Thabethe, appeared in court on Monday for their bail applications.

Thabethe was granted bail of R10,000 and is expected back in court on 5 July 2021.

The duo was arrested last week along with former Free State agriculture department head Dr Limakatso Moorosi and former financial officer Seipati Dhlamini. Moorosi and Dhlamini were each granted R10,000 bail.

Sharma and Thabethe are among 15 people accused of defrauding the Free State Department of Agriculture in connection with the failed R288 million Estina dairy project in Vrede, Free State.

It is alleged that Nulane Investments, a Gupta-linked company that Sharma owned and controlled, was irregularly awarded a R25 million contract to do a feasibility in 2011 study for the Vrede dairy farm. However, the work was done by Deloitte for R1.5 million while Sharma and Guptas pocketed the rest.

The accused face charges of fraud and money laundering. The former government officials are also charged with contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

According to the NPA’s Investigating Directorate (ID), Sharma’s bail hearing was adjourned to allow for the hearing of arguments.

The fifth suspect in the matter, Sharma’s brother-in-law and a representative of Nulane Investments, Dinesh Patel, will formally appear on 15 June due to health reasons.

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