Guptas claim victory as state withdraws NPA’s bid to freeze their mines’ trusts
However, the money has to be withdrawn from the Bank of Baroda accounts and deposited with the Mineral Resources Minister
The Gupta family has claimed another victory in its legal war with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) after the state withdrew its bid to freeze the Gupta-owned Optimum and Koornfontein mines rehabilitation trusts.
But the NPA is disputing the family’s claims that it suffered a third defeat in its ongoing state-capture litigation‚ and says it agreed to settle to allow the estimated R1.7bn in the trusts to be deposited with Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.
"We got what we wanted. The money has been taken out of the hands of the Guptas’ trustees‚" NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said.
The North Gauteng High Court has ordered that‚ while preparations are made for the money to be deposited with Mantashe’s department‚ the money be transferred from the Bank of Baroda to a Nedbank account.
National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams has been ordered to pay the costs of the rehabilitation funds trustees‚ who challenged the NPA’s freezing of the trusts as utterly baseless.
"It is simply so that the preservation order obtained by the NDPP should never have been obtained in the first place‚" the Guptas’ lawyers said in a statement to TimesLIVE. They added that this was the third of the family’s legal victories against the state‚ who the Guptas have accused of pursuing a politically motivated "witch hunt" against them.
The Organisation Opposing Tax Abuse (Outa) has also withdrawn its court bid to stop the trustees from having access or control of the R1.7bn in rehabilitation funds.
"With regards to the even more publicised application by Outa‚ of the interim interdict freezing the funds of the mine rehabilitation trusts of the two aforesaid mines‚ that application was settled on the basis that each party pays their own costs‚ and the freezing order so obtained (by consent) was discharged. It is evident that there never was any misuse or misappropriation of the trust funds‚" the Guptas’ lawyer Rudi Krause said.
Earlier this month‚ the Guptas slammed the "incompetent" NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit cases launched against the family and its businesses. They also challenged authorities to provide proof that a warrant of arrest had actually been issued for Ajay Gupta.
"Not only have the Gupta companies and the Guptas been attacked by incompetents in the NPA and the Hawks‚ but it is [blatantly] stated by a minister of state‚ by senior prosecutors and senior police officers that‚ for example‚ Mr Ajay Gupta is a fugitive from justice."
The family’s lawyers have further slammed the media for failing "to recognise or adequately to report the basic fact that a completely incompetent order had been taken against the Gupta-related companies and Mr Atul Gupta" in relation to the Estina Dairy Project case. The Guptas’ lawyers successfully challenged a preservation order freezing assets alleged to be "the proceeds of crime" on the basis that the state had shown a "fundamental failure to understand the true nature of commercial practice and of banking".
Said Krause, "The simple basis for that failure was an inability by the NPA to read bank statements in a manner which made any commercial sense."